small logo

 

As many of you know, I have quite the opinion on UK advocacy in vaping, but this is something that has clearly existed for over 2 months, and I’ve not been aware of it – this worries me greatly.

An article published on the BMA website (linked below) yesterday (Nov 30th 2016) certainly gives a lot of reasons for vapers to be concerned, and quite honestly is a particularly difficult pill to swallow, trust me on this, I had to read it a few times to get my head around it!

The BMA article begins with “An organisation that receives funding from three of the biggest tobacco companies in the world is providing support for the UK Parliament’s APPG (all-party parliamentary group) on e-cigarettes.” – and that’s not click-bait or an enticing hard hitter, it’s a statement that gives us all a strong understanding of the very real and worrying content of the rest of the article.

An easy way to explain what’s going on can be pretty simple:

  • The UK has something called the ‘All-Party Parliamentary Group’ (APPG) – this group of individuals take advice from industry professionals and business in order to provide the government with factual information – in our case, for vaping. The APPG is not a branch of the government, they certainly can influence it
  • Offering advice to the APPG is a group set up in Sept 2016 called UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA)
  • The 13 members of the UKVIA includes – Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International. Another member is Fontem Ventures, a company that makes a leading brand of e-cigarettes, and is owned by Imperial Brands, the parent company of Imperial Tobacco.
  • “The APPG recently held a discussion event called The Great Vape Debate. Panellists included a scientist from Fontem Ventures, and behavioural psychologist Christopher Russell from the Centre for Substance Use Research – an organisation also part-funded by tobacco companies.”

If you, like me, read the above 4 points and got to the end with a big ‘WTF?!’ going through your head, then let me add a little more confusion to the pot. I have certainly seen no evidence to suggest that included in the UKVIA is anyone from Public Health England, or the Royal College of Physicians – both bodies being hugely influential with regards to the relative risks involved with vaping as opposed to tobacco. There is also no inclusion of impartial trade advice from a body like the ‘Independent British Vape Trade Association’ (IBVTA) – which has NO ties to tobacco via it’s members, and this to me is key, the word ‘independent’ surely must be absolutely essential in any political discussion that could influence the decision makers – or at least one would think anyway. So quite plainly the tobacconists are influencing the rules that affect tobacco.

Is this timing for the UKVIA just chance timing? Somehow, I think not. Philip Morris is about to release a new product which ‘heats’ the tobacco as opposed to burning it (noted below), insisting that vaping does not convert smokers adequately – a point we already know to be untrue, but it would still be interesting to hear what’s going on at Phillip Morris HQ when they can make such a ridiculous point after governments around the world are trying their very hardest to quash vaping, businesses, and the ability for health conscious consumers to make the change.
While this is an example of one tobacco company working on this type of product, it would be naive to consider that others were not working on the same thing.

Is there anything you can do to help?

To be honest, at this moment in time I don’t think there is. However, I for one will be looking for guidance from the IBVTA as a way of moving forward. I will do my best to keep bringing you more information and development on this subject because while we’re worrying about aspects of Article 20 from the TPD, this has the potential to cast a much greater shadow on an industry that we have chosen to be part of.

Links to articles mentioned 

The BMA (Please read) – https://www.bma.org.uk/news/2016/november/an-unhealthy-interest-in-e-cigarettes

Philip Morris’ new ‘tobacco heating’ product – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38152297

The IBVTA – http://www.ibvta.org.uk/

An interesting article from the Vapers Post – http://www.vapingpost.com/2016/12/01/good-job-people-speak-about-it/

5 Comments

  1. Author

    Response @Diehardvaper

    Thanks for the comment, and I absolutely appreciate that while 3 of the largest tobacco companies in the world are only a portion of the group, however there are also connections that could understandably offer some concern to the outsider.

    For instance, one of the Directors of the UKVIA Ltd is John Dunne, who is stated as the MD for Nicopure Labs UK (Not the American parent company from what I can see) on the Nicopure website. Mr Dunne has also spent 13 years in senior sales roles in companies like Altria and Philip Morris ( link below ). Personally, I’m uncomfortable with an individual with historical ties to companies like Philip Morris (who are releasing their ‘heating’ product) whose role it was to move forward with tobacco influencing vaping decisions in the UK.

    Of course there may be an entirely professional separation between tobacco and vaping for Mr Dunne, and I certainly hope there is, but at best we can only hope that’s the case – clearly unless you’re involved in the proceedings we have no accurate understanding of what goes on behind closed doors.
    For me, it highlights that not everything is as black and white as it may seem at first.

    I wrote the article above because the situation concerned me, and it still truly does. To move forward with vaping and not tobacco, there needs to be a clear definition between the two. We know that in the EU and the USA the ‘powers that be’ are grouping vaping products with tobacco products – thus to progress with vaping and vaping regulation, surely it makes sense to continue with the absolute separation between the two and have actual independent bodies providing the advice and recommendations necessary to highlight the importance of vaping, as well as any ensuing guidelines.

    UKVIA Ltd Companies House – https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/10367231/officers
    Nicopure, and Mr Dunne – https://www.nicopure.com/about-us/nicopure-family/

    1. Glad to see I am held in such high regard. I am always glad to have a discussion with you in relation to my involvement with the UKVIA and my past employers. The UKVIA was setup to be an inclusive and very transparent organisation, run by its members to promote vaping. I started in this industry when there was only 2 cigalike products in the market. Those that actualy know me fully get my passion about this industry. I was a smoker since I was 14 and have watched both of my parents die from smoking related cancer. So please , do not try and drum up some sort of conspiricy theory in my name.

  2. It might be worth pointing out that the UKVIA is not just made up of 1. Nicocigs (PMI), 2. Logic/E Lites (JTI), 3. Vype BAT, 4. Blu/Imperial Tobacco – which are all Vape businesses (yes ultimately owned by Tobacco companies, but significant/separate divisions in their own right), BUT there are another 9 independently owned companies who are also a part of the VIA – 1. VapeClub, 2. Nerudia, 3. ECigWizard 4. Multi Vape 5. Vapouriz, 6. Nicopure Labs, 7. Madvapes 8. Vaporized and 9. Gamucci. All the members of the UKVIA contribute the exactly same amount into the pot. This is not a group ‘run by and funded by’ big tobacco. It is run by 13 founding members who all have an equal vote in what they do. It is also set up as a not for profit business.

  3. I sent an email to Mark Pawsey pointing this obvious flaw out about a month ago (the 11th Nov). It’s such a stupid move.

    “Dear Mark

    I know that things cost money, but

    is it really such a good idea to have tobacco fund the APPG on ecigs?

    Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem but I’m aware that some state-funded lobbying groups – and some international ones – would bleat about it to the rooftops if they found out.

    Might I suggest approaching the independant trade association IBVTA (info@ibvta.org.uk) to see if they could sponsor it instead?

    I’m a vaper with long experience in the issues surrounding ecigs’ regulatory difficulties, and I’m greatly appreciative of the good work you have done to help keep these things available, in a form where they are still useful. That “useful” is something that the aforementioned lobby groups don’t really understand, as they have no direct experience. Hence I feel it would be an error to give them an opportunity to push their narrow agenda.

    All the best, and thank you for your continued support.

    Liam Bryan,
    Vaper”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *