Friday, 27 May 2016

Yours, Disgusted Of Hatton Garden

From the ASH emails, I thought you'd enjoy this piece of dribbling rust-hearted pecksniffery on a Friday.

Cast your mind back to 2012, and just think of all the things that might have angered the public back then. Flooding in the west country leaving people homeless; the phone tapping scandal and the Leveson inquiry; the UK economy dropping back into recession and national debt rising to over £1 trillion for the first time.

But what was Deborah Arnott of ASH disgusted by?

Yep, "shocked" and "disgusted" that there were not enough no smoking signs around the Olympic Park. So "shocked" and "disgusted", in fact, that it was worth state-funded Debs throwing her weight around and utilising her direct line to Andrew Black of the Department of Health in order to make sure that smokers were suitably bullied.

This, remember, is Deborah "we're not anti-smoker, we're anti-smoking" Arnott, the people's friend.

I swear the urge to become a tobacco controller is a form of mental illness.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Extraordinary Extent Of ASH Lobbying

Last week Guido highlighted what we in this corner of the internet already knew; that ASH lobbies the government with money government, erm, gives to ASH.
Arnott is not averse to using cash to influence government policy – our cash. ASH waged a half-decade campaign, involving top Civil Service officials, to introduce plain packaging. In a string of emails between Arnott, Hunt, the Department of Health’s top ranking official Andrew Black and surprisingly the PM’s Chief of Staff – Ed Llewellyn, the organisation appears to have broken the department’s rule on the use of its grant money. The Department of Health rules, as stated in November last year, prohibit government lobbying at the taxpayers’ expense: 
“Funding applications from voluntary sector organisations are assessed against a number of criteria, but Departmental policy clearly states that grants will not be awarded if there is any indication within the application that some or all of any funding awarded will be used to support political activities, including political lobbying activity.”
Between 2011 and 2015, ASH received a whopping £745,650 in taxpayer funded grants from the Department of Health, their £200,000 grant last year was specifically for assisting the department to implement the “Tobacco Control Plan” (page 22). In that same period, documents seen by Guido highlight 74 separate incidents of lobbying contact, reaching as high as the PM’s office. Taxpayer grants form by far the largest donations given to ASH, and it would appear that they have been used to lobby the government against the Department of Health’s own regulations.
74 different instances of Deborah Arnott using a direct line to the Department of Health to promote plain packaging? Wow! Were those opposed to the policy afforded the same facility? Well of course not, it's just Debs and her buddy Andrew carving up the democratic process.

But that's only scratching the surface! I've been kindly sent the FOI results that Guido was working from and they are quite astonishing. Deborah Arnott contacted Andrew Black (the Department of Health's tobacco lead) so many times that the files had to be split into five volumes. I've spent three days on and off reading them and I'm still only halfway through. There are so very many emails that they would have been better off keeping an open channel on MSN Messenger to save time.

ASH would claim to be independent of government, but on this showing they are acting as a government department and might even have an internal phone line between their offices and the Department of Health as far as we know.

But then, when even government ministers consider Arnott as part of the Department of Health 'team', why should we suspect different.

That's Andrew Black (far left) next to bessie mate and email pen pal Debs
Yet ASH would still deny that they are engaged in the practice of using government money to lobby government (in fact, Arnott denies exactly that to Black explicitly in one email I've read). Quite astonishing.

There is so much info in the files it's a real revelation. ASH have their fingers in so many pies that one day they might be telling Black to order the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to change their policies (yes, really), and the next complaining about signage at sports grounds. There is almost nothing Arnott would not write to Black about. Some of it is daft, almost comical at times, and some of it - in my humble opinion - is borderline illegal.

It's a great insight into the shenanigans of these hideous people and it would be mean of me to keep it to myself ... so I won't. It's the sort of thing that should be exposed to the public who pay for it, so let's start, shall we?

Considering the IEA is holding a debate tomorrow on the damaging (and pointless) provisions in the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) towards e-cigs, shall we examine ASH's role in it?

Last week, there was outrage that ASH had attempted to support the indefensible TPD by throwing hundreds of thousands of vapers down the drain.
The needs of more than a quarter of a million people don't matter, according to ASH.  
The ASH survey finds that "only" 9% of the UK's 2.8 million current vapers use strengths above the 20mg/ml limit imposed by the TPD. That in itself is bad enough, however the point which ASH so spectacularly miss, is that this cross sectional survey tells us nothing about what strength people used when first using vaping devices. It is entirely possible, indeed probable, that a much larger proportion of those 2.8 million vapers used high strength liquids when they initiated use and then reduced the strength as they became more experienced and learnt the quite different techniques involved in vaping.
But these emails show that ASH's current position on e-cigs is merely a fallback one of nobbling the devices after being frustrated at not getting them banned entirely.

We already know that in 2010 ASH recommended that the devices should be compelled to be deemed as medical products or banned entirely in an MHRA consultation response. It wasn't until three years later in June 2013 that MHRA advocated exactly that, just as ASH had been badgering them to. Now, I don't know about you, but I think those two things might be related, whaddya reckon?

But then came the TPD which threatened to throw that proposed de facto prohibition in the bin. So what did ASH do? Talk to vapers? Establish their expert opinion? Change their minds and research more? Nope, they held a round-table discussion with the medical community to ask what the hive mind of 'public health' thought of harm reduction. And guess who introduced it and summarised at the end? Yes, Debs did.

Her conclusions were conveyed to Jeremy Hunt in September 2013 (and co-signed by John Britton). She was adamant that recreational use of nicotine was just an industry myth and that vapers used e-cigs for the same reasons as NRT marketed by her friends in the pharmaceutical industry (as with all these images, click to expand).

What's more, there would be no problem with medicines regulation for vaping suppliers because they were earning loads of money, so they were. It was easy peasy!

Regulation won't undermine growth? But will simultaneously entrench existing players? That's some weapons grade goalpost-moving right there isn't it?

But even if it wasn't easy peasy, Arnott wasn't too bothered about medicines regulation putting small companies out of business anyway. In shades of the FDA deeming regulations across the pond, the letter from Arnott and Britton appeared to say "well Big Tobacco will buy these companies anyway in time, so why not just hand them the industry now?".

In correspondence shared with Andrew Black in December 2013, Arnott went even further in her desperate drive to get e-cigs included in the TPD as medicinal products. Writing presumably to the Labour Party or a shadow cabinet researcher (redacted), she exhorted them to support medicines regulation in the TPD and sharpish. Because, you see, without really taking any consumer views into account, Arnott had concluded that where vaping is concerned, making e-cigs available only as drab smoking cessation aids via stifling medical regulations was the "best use for them".

The urgency just leaps off the page, doesn't it? A "priority" to push the TPD through by 22 May 2014 no matter what damaging shit is in it. If that was the approach of ASH - with their open line to government - is it any wonder why Health Minister Anna Soubry, flanked by Arnott's best pal Andrew Black and no doubt accompanied by him in Europe, panicked and voted for something she knew nothing about; arrogantly bypassing parliamentary scrutiny in the process.

The rest is history. No doubt pressured by ASH and other rancid organisations in Europe behind the scenes, the public and the EU Parliament was ignored and the TPD that is now causing havoc in the UK and beyond was formulated in secret and therefore, to no-one's surprise, delivered in February 2014.

With that background in mind, is it any wonder that ASH are now trying to pretend that the TPD isn't really that bad for vapers? They are responsible for the TPD Article 20 and have been since the first time someone rang them up and said "have you seen these odd plastic things that I've heard are being hawked in pubs?" from 2004 onwards.

Corrupt? I'll leave that up to you to decide.

There's tons of this stuff you know, anyone up for more?

Last Call For The #IEAVapeDebate

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, tomorrow night the Institute of Economic Affairs are hosting a debate to discuss the recently-installed provisions in the EU's Tobacco Products Directive and their effect on the vaping free market. Here's the blurb.
In recent years e-cigarettes have flourished in Britain under a free market. Light touch regulation, low barriers to entry and strong competition have resulted in choice, value and innovation. That could all change from May 20th when new EU regulations are introduced. Under Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive, most forms of advertising will be banned and limits on product size, strength and capacity will come into effect. Retailers and manufacturers will be faced with new bureaucracy and restrictions. 
As the dust begins to settle, what will be the effect on vapers and the vaping industry? Join us for a discussion about the practical implications of Article 20 on e-cigarette use in Britain at 6.30pm on May 25th.
Speakers include:
  • Mark Pawsey MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on e-cigarettes
  • Lorien Jollye, New Nicotine Alliance
  • Fraser Cropper, Totally Wicked
  • Ian Green, Southampton Vaping Centre
  • Ian Barber, Advertising Association
  • Christopher Snowdon, IEA head of lifestyle economics (Chair)
If you've never been to a think tank event before, you won't find the IEA intimidating. I expect there will be refreshments, including wine, and down-to-earth fare such as bowls of crisps and stuff (canapes at the posher IEA events have been known to include fish and chips!). The panel discussion will last about an hour and a half, inclusive of the audience Q&A, while the venue also has a pleasant smoking area and is vape-friendly. All are welcome and it is free to attend.

Not much time though as it begins at 6:30pm tomorrow, so if you haven't already registered, fill out the simple form at the bottom of this page and get yourself on the guest list.

If you can't get to London, you can follow the debate on social media via the hashtag #IEAVapeDebate, but if you intend to come along, hope to see you there!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Harm Of Plain Packaging

Along with death and taxes, the one thing you can be certain about in this world - because tobacco controllers routinely lie - is that any anti-smoking policy promoted by tobacco control will be designed for a completely different purpose than the one they pretend it's about when they lobby politicians.

We saw this with the smoking ban where all the talk of protecting bar staff evaporated once the law had been passed; then it became how wonderful it will be to drive down smoking rates. It was nothing about health but all about denormalising and shaming smokers.

Likewise plain packaging. As I've mentioned before, once the law took effect in Australia, all mention of stopping children smoking disappeared in favour of how brilliant this would be for forcing smokers to quit (in fact, the stats on child smoking were deliberately ignored).

Anyone who has ever smoked knows plain packaging won't make a blind bit of difference to smoking uptake; and - as even ultra-local Puddlecoteville radio understands considering the breakfast show presenter was ridiculing the idea on the morning it was announced - that the policy is purely intended to attack the tobacco industry while irritating, shaming and bullying smokers.

Much to their chagrin, someone took to the 'public health' racket's favourite online source on Thursday to criticise this approach.
Why tobacco ‘plain packaging’ could have dangerous unintended consequences
“[P]lain packaging” has been found to create severe feelings of self-blame and disgust which, in turn, cause stigmatisation of smokers
On the one hand, these side effects are not justified because they are not outweighed by other benefits of the new plain packaging rules. The fact that smokers feel motivated to stop is hardly a net gain when they at the same time are subject to emotional harm, and their chances of quitting aren’t strongly improved. 
Worse, though, some studies demonstrate that certain groups of smokers react negatively to shock messages. For some, the feeling of blame and stigmatisation creates an emotional state of disempowerment, which reinforces the belief that it is impossible to stop smoking. In such cases, plain packaging does not only create emotional harm without sufficient justification, it is quite frankly counterproductive. 
Given the lack of behavioural evidence and the serious unintended consequences, the introduction of tobacco plain packaging in the UK is an ill-advised decision, which is most likely not to have a significant impact on one of our biggest public health challenges.
This, of course, is distilled heresy in tobacco control circles where only wild Borg-like enthusiasm is tolerated. One of the world's biggest plain packaging advocates couldn't resist popping up in the comments pretending that this was nonsense, along with other fruitcakes saying things like this.
I dispute whether there is an intention to cause shame - do you have any evidence of such an intention?
Well considering that making smokers ashamed of displaying their packs was celebrated by Aussie tobacco controllers as well as UK ones, I'd say so, wouldn't you?

I'd also suggest that tobacco control campaigns such as "If you smoke, you stink" kinda gave the game away, as did tobacco control industry grandees celebrating smokers being seen as malodourous; litterers; selfish and thoughtless; unattractive and undesirable housemates; uneducated; a social underclass; addicts; excessive users of public health services; and employer liabilities. So it's hardly surprising that government advisers have noticed the effects, all the while tobacco control liars pretend it isn't happening.

The author of the Conversation piece - Thomas Boysen Anker of the University of Glasgow - gamely and astutely countered criticism of his article in the comments, most notably with these observations.
[I]t is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the mandatory use of shock messages on plain packs causes stigmatisation of smokers. I know some studies see this as a positive outcome. To me it is emotional harm. 
[I]f you ask smokers, many feel ashamed of using plain packs because of the shocking health warnings. Intentionally causing feelings of shame is a form of stigmatisation. 
My issue is that - from a purely public health point of view - it is surprising that we invest massive time, effort and money into de-stigmatising mental health problems, homosexuality, etc., but readily accept stigmatisation of smokers. To me, that is an ethical problem.
Indeed it is!

Of course, the tobacco control industry couldn't care less about emotional - or even physical - harm to smokers, as Deborah Arnott proved by arguing in favour of the vile policy of banning smoking in mental health institutions in November. Possibly the most disgraceful smoker bullying you could ever imagine.

Yet the very same Arnott - sporting a straight face - apparently received a hearty round of applause at a Royal Society of Public Health 'debate' in April for saying that her organisation attacks smoking but not smokers!

It is quite ridiculous for any tobacco controller to say that the intention of their policies hasn't been to shame and stigmatise smokers; they know very well that is their deliberate intention. They even tacitly admit it with laughable justifications for outdoor bans being to remove filthy smokers from the view of children. It's not, and they are well aware of what the real reason is; it's to make smokers ashamed of being seen.

But let's take them at their word just for jolly.

Say they really do care about smokers and wouldn't even dream of heaping shame and stigmatisation on them (don't laugh). What does that say about how much they understand smokers? Well it pretty much means they haven't the first clue, doesn't it?

But then, why would they considering they refuse to listen to anything smokers ever say. Empathy, compassion and ethics can go hang when there are grant bucks to chase, eh?

Friday, 20 May 2016

The Real Deal; A Fatal Attraction

There's been a bit of misguided excitement of late about an Early Day Motion on the subject of the negative effect of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) on e-cigs.

I say misguided because EDMs are the laziest possible thing an MP can do, they mean absolutely nothing and will achieve nothing. I have met MPs who have been unaware that they have even signed them because EDMs are such a low-level priority that they leave it up to their staff to handle; the political equivalent of routine filing. So irrelevant, in fact, that many MPs have a policy of refusing to sign them no matter the subject for the understandable reason that they are utterly pointless but could rebound on a politician if something changes in the future and their name is on a document supporting a cause which could harm their career.

They're a relic of the past and mostly now only a tool to appease those who don't know anything about politics and convince them that their MP is really working hard for them (even though he/she isn't). Plus they're notorious for having a negative effect, if signatures are low (and with many MPs excluding themselves that's not difficult) it can be used to say there is no support for the idea. The potential harm far outweighs the non-existent chance that it will do any good.

The particular EDM which has caused the misguided excitement also promotes probably the most egregious example of tobacco control industry junk science (the full Monty, it even cited vape-hating Glantz) I've seen in all my time in the blogosphere. I wrote about it here, and it was also rubbished in the MSM as well as here, here, here, and here. After the furore had died down, the bungling bellend who wrote it and his formerly well-respected employer parted company; you can make of that what you will. Far from supporting such a pointless and absurd motion, I'd be far more inclined to urge my MP not to sign it.

However, yesterday saw the tabling of a completely different motion, and this one is the real deal. A proper stonker which has the potential of delivering something quite extraordinary in modern politics.
†Lord Callanan to move that a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, laid before the House on 22 April, be annulled on the grounds that its restrictions on product choice and advertising of vaping devices were devised before evidence had accumulated that vaping was enabling many people to quit smoking, run counter to advice from the Royal College of Physicians to promote vaping and are so severe that they could force vapers back to smoking and create a black market with harmful products (SI 2015/507).
The important word here is annulled. This signals that this is a bona fide 'fatal motion' being presented in the Lords. There are others which are regretful or just want to make a note, but the one presented by Lord Callanan today seeks to (as the name implies) kill the Statutory Instrument (SI) behind the entire EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD). ECITA has written a good explanation of the process at their site here.

Far from shilly-shallying like an EDM inevitably does, this is an attempt to sling the TPD back in the face of government for having the temerity to even present it. There is no room for compromise, it's a yes/no thing and, if successful, would kill the enabling mechanism in parliament for the TPD to be ratified by the UK.

As things go, this is a very big thing compared with other big things. It's the Daddy of big things!

In practice, it won't be the end of the TPD (sadly) but a vote by the Lords in favour of the fatal motion would force the government to consider re-issuing the SI without the provisions on e-cigarettes. This, of course, is where the politics comes in.

You may have noticed that there is a referendum on the EU coming up soon, there has been the odd article here and there about it. Well, one of the main justifications for leaving is that we are hog-tied by EU legislation with our parliament not able to do anything about it.

This motion can derail the entire TPD so will have to be taken seriously by government, but what can they do? If they remove the provisions on e-cigs they are still going to be caned by the EU for not enforcing compliance on daft rules coming from the EU. Quite delicious, isn't it?

It's also worth mentioning that only 9 member states out of 28 have made moves to implement the TPD. As usual, though, the UK is bending over backwards to hurry through our instruments to be perfect British bulldogs Brussels lap-dogs.

So we have a scenario which is hard to judge. It's quite clear that the mood in Britain is that e-cigs are a good idea, Public Health England (PHE), the body overseeing national Stop Smoking Services and the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) have all come out in favour of encouraging their use. But being placed in front of the Lords is a SI which contains regulations which do quite the opposite. It's quite natural for them, therefore, to oppose it.

However, it also contains the (equally daft) provisions on tobacco so many Lords will be quite content with defending the SI and would consider e-cigs as collateral damage for the greater good, even if they support the idea of tobacco harm reduction (THR). There is also the tangential concern - again amongst Lords who would agree with vaping and supportive of THR - that if the fatal motion is passed then it would embarrass the government in advance of the EU referendum. The EU might have their hand forced to punish the UK for standing up to principles and endorsing the views of the RCP and PHE. Erm, doesn't look good does it? If you're a Lord who is keen to stay in the EU, you might find that a compelling reason not to vote in favour of the motion even if you agree that e-cigs shouldn't be in the TPD.

On the other hand, there are also reasons why Lords who prefer to remain in the EU might want to vote in favour of the motion. It would help show that the EU is not in charge of the UK's self-determination; that we can still stand up to dictators; and that this would give them ammunition for saying that we still keep a bit of sovereignty. Of course, if the Lord is an advocate of leaving the EU then this is a good chance to refuse to comply with an EU directive that shouldn't have been passed in its current form.

What is absolutely clear, though, is that ideologically-blind and stupid anti-smoking lobbyists along with vacant politicians have contrived to put the UK government in one hell of a pickle. At any time since around 2012 e-cigs could have been excluded from the TPD but instead ignorance and pomposity prevailed, they were told what would happen but smugly ignored it.

Labour MEP Linda McAvan should be a swear word within government circles at the moment, so should political lightweight Anna Soubry who thought so little of the e-cigs debate that she didn't even concern herself with learning about it. Likewise ASH who lobbied forcefully throughout the TPD negotiations to ensure that e-cigs should be part of the TPD and removed from sale unless by prescription. They have all been made to look utterly pathetic and have caused the government a thumping headache with their arrogant stupidity of turning their back on what they were being told by the public.

So what can be done to ensure this motion is taken seriously? Well, for a start sign this petition, at time of writing it was up to 26,000 signatures in just over a day.
This petition is requesting the House of Lords to back Lord Callanan’s motion to stop harsh regulations on e-cigarettes which would force vapers back to smoking. We urge our House of Commons to debate the implications for public health of the Tobacco Products Directive on e-cigarettes.  And we plead with the Prime Minister to use his influence in Brussels to get a British opt-out from Article 20 before the EU referendum so this issue does not affect that vote.
And it will influence the vote, as I've written before. It even commands its own page on the site.

You can also make a noise on social media.

But most of all, write a personal message to your political representative to show that they should be supporting this motion. It doesn't matter what the Lords allegiances are towards the EU, whether they're in favour of remaining or leaving and how it will affect their vote on the fatal motion is something for their own consciences to decide. You don't need to concern yourself with referendum politics in your letter, all you need do is show the strength of opinion opposed to the TPD, and send them the strong message that the only right thing to do is vote with Lord Callanan and send government away to think again (here is the full list of Lords but you could start with these ones who have expressed a previous interest).

As I understand it, the debate must take place by early June, so there isn't a lot of time, and the motion offers a modest chance of success. However, at least it has some chance of succeeding, and your voice could help bring that about. So do something positive today, stand up for our free choice and get stuck in.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Draw A Line Here

Operation Oh My God That's A Lot Of Work is well underway at Puddlecote Inc and it's been all hands to the pumps of late, hence the sparse content here this week.

I did, however, manage to sneak out to attend Forest's Battle of the Brands event at the Churchill War Rooms on Tuesday night accompanied by a couple of regular readers here. And very good it was too.

After the initial reception, one of the dark rooms where Churchill's top level aides planned how to protect Britain from the extremism of a tyrannical dictator was lit up by a short film describing how the extremism of the modern day tyrannical dictatorship - that of self-serving 'public health' tax spongers - is irrelevant, contemptuous of the public, and arguably counterproductive.

The film was followed by speeches by Simon Clark, along with representatives of the Tobacco Retailers Alliance and the British Brands Group. The latter two emphasised the damaging effect on business that plain packaging will have for - as any smoker will be able to tell you - absolutely no benefit whatsoever. It hasn't worked in Australia - predictably, and no matter what junk science tobacco control concoct to try to spin it otherwise - and won't work anywhere else either. It will, though, quite clearly harm businesses.

Not that politicians will listen, though. As we see from Guido Fawkes today (and which I will be writing about soon too), ASH have been caught lobbying the Department of Health with our money directly (something which is contrary to the terms of their government grant) and they couldn't give a flying fuck about businesses failing as long as the tax-funded wonga keeps filling their personal bank accounts. They should be in prison for fraud and economic vandalism but instead the government listens to them while completely ignoring law-abiding businesses big and small.

The last contribution in that film from Mark Littlewood is particularly well noted. It's very clear that all manner of prohibitionist campaigners (aka scum) will be looking at plain packaging of tobacco with envious eyes. In fact, they already have, you only need to search 'Myth 7' at this site to see dozens of examples of grey-faced bottom-feeding 'public health' plankton jockeying for position to apply the same kind of thing to their own particular snooty prejudice.

As Littlewood says, it's time to draw a line here. His argument is that the fact such an absurd, illiberal, and utterly pointless policy as plain packaging has been allowed to be applied to legal businesses, in a supposed free country, should alarm all us.

Well, apart from the repulsive anti-social snobs who infest our society, of course. They're an argument for the reinstatement of transportation.

Monday, 16 May 2016

ASH's Mask Slips Into The Gutter

That didn't take very long, did it?

On Saturday I wrote about how the Lords had identified the TPD as an appalling piece of legislation but that no-one in the tobacco control industry would care, least of all ASH.
Nope. ASH didn't study e-cigs with any degree of objectivity when they first arrived on the scene. In fact, in 2010 they demanded that the devices should be compelled to be deemed as medical products or banned entirely in an MHRA consultation response. This should never be forgotten; ASH sway with the wind so their current supposed "supportive" stance towards vaping is purely a convenient position of least resistance, I wouldn't put it past them to jump to an opposite position the moment they think the wind is changing. They are certainly no credible friend of the vaper. Indeed, I understand that they are cheerleaders for the TPD which was being unanimously ridiculed during this Lords committee. Speaks volumes doesn't it?
Well, whaddya know!
Concerns raised in Parliament [4] about the EU rules are not borne out by the ASH Smokefree GB Adult Survey. Only 9% of vapers report using e-liquid containing 19mg/ml or more of nicotine (the limit set by the EU Tobacco Products Directive is 20mg/ml).  And only 11% of daily vapers use more than 4ml of liquid (the EU limit for tanks and cartridges is 2ml), indicating that few of them are likely to need to refill their device more than twice a day. [3]  The minority of vapers using higher strengths and higher volumes of e-liquid will continue to be able to buy these until 20th May 2017, leaving time for products to evolve to meet their needs.
The reference for "concerns raised in parliament" is a question directed at the Prime Minister at PMQs which, in turn, references the savaging that the TPD was given by the Lords on Tuesday.

Alarmed by {gosh!} such positive messages about vaping and the public monstering by Lords of the appalling dog's breakfast that the TPD represents, ASH sprang into action to defend what we all know to be a corruptly-imagined and drafted directive, as Viscount Ridley described well in the Lords committee that ASH are today so very keen to discredit.
It is the product of big-company lobbying and back-room deals in Brussels. It is legislation which last month the Department of Health admitted, in its impact assessment, risks increasing, not reducing, the amount of smoking. 
Vaping is therefore a public health triumph that the Department of Health has, to its extreme shame, done its utmost to block. In 2010, the department’s medicines regulator, the MHRA, tried to ban vaping devices completely. In 2013, the agency - which is financed largely by the pharmaceutical industry - tried to insist that every e-cigarette should be licensed as a medicine. This would again have amounted to a de facto ban.
All, of course, enthusiastically chivvied along by ASH. Yet they recently said they have been "supportive for quite some time".

That doesn't appear to be true of today, because they have come out on the side of self-serving dogma instead of health, as the NNA notes.
The needs of more than a quarter of a million people don't matter, according to ASH. 
The ASH survey finds that "only" 9% of the UK's 2.8 million current vapers use strengths above the 20mg/ml limit imposed by the TPD. That in itself is bad enough, however the point which ASH so spectacularly miss, is that this cross sectional survey tells us nothing about what strength people used when first using vaping devices. It is entirely possible, indeed probable, that a much larger proportion of those 2.8 million vapers used high strength liquids when they initiated use and then reduced the strength as they became more experienced and learnt the quite different techniques involved in vaping.
Indeed. What ASH are saying here is that they don't give a shit about the most compelling aspect of vaping as far as 'public health' is concerned; that of being a realistic alternative to smoking. That's a jaw-dropping admission!

Most smokers who eventually switch to vaping will have started on strengths of 24mg and above, anything below 20mg will not offer much to attract someone on 20 tabs a day.

It's also quite telling that ASH has sat contentedly silent while vaping bans have been installed up and down the country - which is truly damaging to the perception of vaping amongst the public - yet, with this absurd and ignorant press assault, has bent over backwards to protect a vacuous, illogical, and corrupt TPD which can only deter smokers from moving to e-cigs instead.

I think we know where ASH's priorities lie now, don't we? And it's certainly not with vapers or asserted with health in mind. Their allegiance seems to be firmly with protecting their chums in tobacco control from rightful condemnation rather than being "supportive" of e-cigs and tobacco harm reduction.

Just imagine how vile you have to be to do that, eh?