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/