Guernsey Busybody Risk

Posted 10th June 2022 by Dave Cross
Guernsey busybodies are demanding increased vape regulations due to their fears that e-liquids and vape devices aren’t “safe” for users. The self-appointed experts at the Guernsey Health Improvement Commission have even encouraged local politicians to take a negative stance to vaping.

Health Improvement Commission employees have raised concerns about increases in teen use but they haven’t supplied new data. The most recent published survey comes from 2019. This found that although 28% of boys and 21% of girls said they’d tried vaping, just 3% of boys and 1% of girls vaped “once a week or more”. Plus, the rather broad definition of regular use didn’t even pin down their smoking status.

The Health Improvement Commission report might have statedUsing electronic cigarettes is safer than smoking tobacco”, but it went on to repeat several half-truths such as nicotine being “highly addictive” and that it “changes adolescent brain cell activity”.

Two years previous to the report, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health, told the Guernsey press: “A small proportion of young people do experiment with e-cigs, but this does not appear to be leading to regular vaping or smoking in any numbers, indeed smoking rates in young people are continuing to decline.”

This position has been supported with evidence from Action on Smoking and Health every year since.

Grace Lindsay joined Guernsey’s Health Improvement Commission’s Substance Use team as the Tobacco Harm Reduction Officer in June, last year. The press release declared that “her work will focus on reducing the health harms caused by tobacco”.

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Her expertise in the area of tobacco control was limited to six years of working within the charity sector offering emotional support and counselling to children, young people and adults.

I wholeheartedly believe in the power of compassion, empathy and listening,” she said.

Commenting on vaping, Grace Lindsay said: “If we don't have that regulation in place, then we can't ensure the products that people use are safe," and that there are unscientific anecdotal reports “that we have seen a large increase in vaping”.

At the same time, Deputy Liam McKenna said vaping has “devastating effects. We've got 11 and 12 year olds who have access to this, and think it's a trendy and safe thing to do, is wrong. I believe, and so do a lot of the medical experts, that vaping reduces your life-term and your quality of life.”

Neither of these statements demonstrate “listening” to the independent evidence from the UK. Nor does it pay any regard to the sterling work Guernsey did regarding pioneering smoke-free prisons by offering free vapes.

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Thanks to the successful pilot in the Isle of Man, Guernsey provided special e-cigs and provided more advanced, reliable units for purchase in the commissary. Air quality is said to have improved by 80% and it is believed at least half of those quitting smoking in prison will go on to remain smoke-free when they are released.

If Grace Lindsay and Deputy Liam McKenna aren’t going to listen to the likes of University College London researchers, they could at least look to their own island’s success story.


 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
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