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Tuesday
Feb062018

Why PHE's pro-vaping crusade is the enemy of choice

I've heard it all now.

According to the Telegraph (and most other national newspapers):

Hospitals have been told to start selling e-cigarettes and letting patients vape indoors - and even in bed - under controversial new health advice.

Public Health England (PHE) said every smoker struggling to quit, including pregnant women, should be encouraged to take up e-cigarettes.

Officials urged hospitals to replace smoking shelters with vaping lounges, and said patients should even be allowed to vape in their beds, if they had single rooms.

Let me be clear. I've no problem with vaping being allowed in hospitals or anywhere else (I welcome it), but does anyone else feel ever so slightly queasy witnessing this evangelical crusade by a body that, let us not forget, is well known for its high-handed interventions in people's lives, whether it be smoking, eating or drinking.

PHE also want e-cigarettes to be 'given out by GPs on prescription, to encourage wider takeup'. The idea that the taxpayer should pay for smokers to quit (or switch from one nicotine device to another) has always struck me as a pretty poor use of public money.

As Chris Snowdon wrote in 2015, 'If you can afford to smoke then you can afford to vape'.

But there's another issue here.

What we are seeing is a public body trying to take ownership of a product that, until now, has succeeded without government intervention.

This is PHE’s manifesto:

Smokers – anyone who has struggled to quit should try switching to an e-cigarette and get professional help. The greatest quit success is among those who combine using an e-cigarette with support from a local stop smoking service.

Local stop smoking services and healthcare professionals – should provide behavioural support to those smokers wanting to quit with the help of an e-cigarette. A new training course on e-cigarettes for healthcare professionals by the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training is now live.

MHRA – continue their work in regulating and licensing e-cigarette products and support manufacturers to expedite the licensing of e-cigarettes as medicinal quit aids. PHE believes there is compelling evidence that e-cigarettes be made available to NHS patients.

NHS Trusts – to become truly smokefree Trusts should ensure: e-cigarettes, alongside nicotine replacement therapies are available for sale in hospital shops; vaping policies support smokers to quit and stay smokefree; smoking shelters be removed; and frontline staff take every opportunity to encourage and support patients to quit.

The issue I have with this approach is that e-cigarettes will eventually be seen as little more than a smoking cessation aid alongside patches and gum.

Worse, PHE's pro-vaping crusade ignores one vital element – choice.

If you smoke and don't want to quit PHE wants to make your life even more uncomfortable by removing outdoor smoking shelters and banning smoking on all NHS sites.

Some people will no doubt applaud unconditionally PHE's support for e-cigarettes. Personally I think it comes at a price – and that price is tolerance and choice.

Anyway, here's Forest's response:

"We welcome PHE's support for e-cigarettes but further attempts to remove smoking shelters or ban smoking on NHS sites will be fiercely resisted.

"E-cigarettes are great for some smokers who want to quit but you can't force smokers to switch if they don't want to. The key issue is choice.

"Regardless of the health risks, many people smoke because they enjoy it. Give them the choice of vaping but denying smokers the comfort of a cigarette when they may be at their most vulnerable is inhumane.

"Vaping is a consumer driven success story. The problem with PHE's approach is that e-cigarettes could become just another smoking cessation aid alongside other nicotine replacement therapies.

"If that happens they will almost certainly lose their appeal to independent-minded smokers who don't want the state dictating their behaviour."

Btw, having been critical of Philip Morris in my previous post (PMI's 2030 vision), I was pleased to read comments by David O'Reilly, group scientific director at British American Tobacco, in yesterday's Daily Mail.

According to the Mail:

Plans to prescribe e-cigarettes on the NHS have collapsed following the abandonment of the only product licensed for medical use.

The eVoke device received approval two years ago amid hopes it could help thousands of smokers to quit.

But British American Tobacco, which holds the medical licence, says the product is unlikely to ‘see the light of day’ because of production difficulties.

In response O'Reilly said:

"We were never really interested in prescription products. At that time, the medicinal route was the only route to market, but smokers do not see themselves as patients.

"Now there are additional routes to market, and we are devoting significant time and resources to extending consumer choice and delivering ever better next-generation tobacco and nicotine products."

In my experience, having listened to him at several conferences, no-one is as committed to harm reduction as David O'Reilly (nor as enthusiastic about next generation products including e-cigarettes).

Note however the use of the phrase 'extending consumer choice', in sharp contrast to PMI's clear declaration of war on smoking.

I'm delighted too to read the unambiguous comment that "Smokers do not see themselves as patients" (or victims, come to that).

The contrast with tobacco control, including Public Health England, could not be clearer. As far as PHE is concerned smokers are patients and part of their treatment is to be offered e-cigarettes alongside other nicotine replacement therapies.

As for 'extending consumer choice', forget it. PHE wants to bludgeon smokers into submission, removing outdoor shelters and prohibiting smoking wherever they can.

In the meantime you may be allowed, at their discretion and under their rules, to vape indoors.

In those circumstances some smokers may indeed elect to switch but I imagine many more will feel resentful that tobacco control has, once again, dictated how you live your life.

According to reports, the number of people vaping in the UK has flatlined at just under three million. I'm not suggesting this is the only reason, but could the fact that e-cigarettes are increasingly being adopted as a tool of the tobacco control industry have something to do with that?

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Reader Comments (12)

If PHE is backing ecigs it is because they know they can be used to force smokers to quit.

They will push for smoking to be made illegal and then push crappy ecigs on us because we are all "nicotine addicts" aren't we "so what's the problem?"

Sadly, I imagine Big Vape and it's shrills will be rejoicing.

Those of us forced to quit would smoke tealeaves rather that suck on a stupid toy.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 11:01 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

And, if vapers can vape indoors, I will smoke and hide that smoke behind their vape. Tobacco control should be careful for what it wishes for.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 11:03 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

The key issue is freedom.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 15:03 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

I say as a vaper, prescribing ecigs would be a disgraceful waste of taxpayers' money. Every smoker has, by now, tried vaping; and will retry it each time a friend brings round a new, improved device. Smokers are resourceful enough to locate reliable supplies of cheap black market cigarettes and tobacco. They have no trouble switching to inexpensive ecigs and liquids, should they decide it suits them.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 16:55 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Bagley

The 'public health' crusade isn't interest in choice. They aren't interested in health either. Their sole interests are control and power. They will try and eradicate tobacco through any means necessary--even temporary accommodations with vaping.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 20:59 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

" ... with support from a local stop smoking service."

I see they've managed to get their little "don't forget us!" comment in there. Can't have quitters ignoring their precious "local services," now, can we? Ooh-er, missus. They might lose their funding!

But in reality, everyone I know who has switched from cigarettes to vaping has done so without any support whatsoever from their "local stop smoking service" - which, ironically, they have often already tried and found to be completely unhelpful and ineffective and totally lacking in any understanding of what motivates people to smoke. As one (escaped) "local service" user commented to me: "The people running these courses just "don't get" smoking, full stop. So how on earth do they think they're going to have the slightest hope of being able to convince someone else, who loves it, to give it up?"

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 1:08 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Vaping is not saving lives, but they try to save some souls for their non-smoking heaven. I hope that although I no longer smoke but have done for over 30 years I still qualify for smoking hell, it will be so much more fun over there.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 10:56 | Unregistered CommenterLVD

To Pat Nurse...
when it comes to ‘vape’ there are few bigger (22 stone) than me, and you won’t have seen me rejoicing. I dunno why you have such a chip on your shoulder.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 11:51 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Dorn

Because Dave Dorn, I am sick of being pushed into third class citizenship by vape enthusiasts and those in public health using that enthusiasm against me. I know there are some vapers who are as outraged at the weaponised use of ecigs against smokers as I am, as if no one saw that coming, but sadly too few. And if I hear one more vaper moaning we poor pathetic smokers have no choice but to die unless we convert to vaping, I think I will scream.

The bottom line is, vapers will be included in this new society smokers are being forced out of and to get there, they had to throw smokers under a bus. Do they care if we have to walk about a mile away from a hospital bed to smoke while they nip down the corridor where our smoking room used to be? Some, maybe, but most will think "I'm alright Jack, screw you." That's human nature and that is what the thugs in PHE are using against us to the joy of those who want Big Vape and replace Big Tobacco.

My chip, btw, comes from being a lifelong smoker who has worted and contributed all of my working life, I have never hurt another living soul and I am wondering why the power of the state and its allies are marginalising, excluding me and running a hate campaign against me when choice could suit each and every one if us. Vaping is crap and no one should be bullied into vaping at home, at work, outside, in a hospital bed or corridor or hospital grounds.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 13:56 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Too many errors in that last paragraph due to the awkward device I use to post in haste sometimes when I have little time. Apologies, but I think you get my drift.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 14:29 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Pat nurse.
I'm an ecig vendor and user. I agree 100% with you that it is a matter of choice and that if a smoker wishes to continue partaking then they should be allowed to do so, it's their choice and they should be accommodated for without being treated like lepers! For what it's worth, I still ENJOY the occasional fag and I don't hide that fact from my many customers, in fact, I reassure new e cig' users that they have that choice and they are not under pressure either way, least not by my way of thinking. My usual message is.. "if you WANT or need to give up and have tried other ways, give vaping a try but don't beat yourself up if you still smoke as well, it's about harm reduction" Fewer fags a day is just that. We all have our vices, it's supposed to be a free country, sadly we are creeping down the road of control whether it be sugar, alcohol, tobacco or vaping. (Don't get me started on busy body do-gooding feminists, who, just lately, have started to take control of those in the glamour industry) But that's another matter.

Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 12:30 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Williams (TA Rojeans)

Believe it or not that's what I tell people too who either want to quit or feel forced to quit. If nothing else works try vaping, I say and often the reply comes back that they have tried it and it's crap.

Some people smoke for the smoke but we will never know why as long as the nicotine myth is continually pushed. After all, proving that smoking is a choice and not an addiction won't do either Big Vape nor Big Public Health any favours.

Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 13:49 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

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