Sunday, 6 July 2014

Irrational Revulsion

Regular readers can't fail to have noticed that content here has been sparse of late. Well, almost non-existent is a more accurate description.

This is a result of real life in Puddlecoteville thrusting itself rudely front and centre like John Terry at an award ceremony. The fallout from four days away in Poland (see event report here) was an inevitable catching-up exercise at Puddlecote Inc, since - due to being booked way back in February - the trip just happened to coincide with necessary purchasing of four new vehicles and a renegotiation of the financing of our company premises. Most of the past week has therefore been spent by my either answering a backlog of 80 odd emails, or tip-toeing between two different bank lenders who are fighting like cats over debentures and worst-case-scenario priority over our assets (the plus side being that we traded them off against each other for mad keen interest rates). There was the odd cricket match and the usual family stuff to distract too, natch.

In the meantime, I've missed a lot but will hopefully be back on the keyboard for a few days before an even more hectic week looming from the 14th.

For a Sunday night listen though, try this half hour report on e-cigs before it is archived by the BBC website. Apart from the sensationalistic intro - where the presenter describes his "irrational revulsion" at seeing someone vaping while also displaying a herd-minded and typically hysterical nanny Beeb attitude to real tobacco smoke in the distance - it is a decent piece.

I'd urge you to don the earphones and listen to it in full, for one or more of the following points I found amusing or curious may interest you too.

Firstly, it came as a big surprise that - as mentioned around 11 minutes in - the government's Behavioural Insight Team (BIT) became aware of e-cigs as a way of "finding alternative solutions to regulation or just throwing money at problems" in 2010!

Funny that, because it was in June 2010 that the MHRA - a government body itself - threw money at a public consultation for a product they had decided was a problem, and attempted to regulate e-cigs out of existence before they knew anything at all about them.

No, really. The consultation text made it quite clear what they had planned.
In order to ensure there is no risk to public health from unlicensed products on the market that have not been assessed for safety, quality and efficacy and in the light of the developing extent of their use and familiarity we are consulting to elicit views on whether and how to bring all products containing nicotine into regulation. 
Option 1 – Whether products containing nicotine should be considered by the Agency to be medicinal products by function and, if so, whether all unlicensed NCPs should be removed from the market within 21 days
The MHRA’s preferred option is option 1, which is in line with current practice.
This move was only headed off by a monumental response from vapers which made it impossible for the MHRA to proceed. I don't remember the Behavioural Insight Team having anything to do with it, do you?

In fact, as described by Clive Bates in the comments here, the MHRA were still trying to nobble the consultation results even while the BIT was - apparently - identifying them as a great tool for harm reduction. Sounds like bollocks to me, but hey.

However, political douche-baggery aside, it is very encouraging that their spokesman is using hindsight so wisely here, and I reckon that this is something they could use to the government's advantage in light of May's election results. Because if the BIT think that e-cigs are such a force for good, why not advise HMG to reject entirely the EU TPD's ridiculous restrictions on them in 2016, eh? It would fit very well with the stance against interference from the EU we all voted for in May and would show the world that Cameron does actually possess a pair of balls, as well as kinda fitting in with his party's promise to abolish pointless red tape. What's not to like?

Look out also for the BBC's recognition of the dramatic effect of e-cigs around 22:00 or just before; for the accurate ridicule of provincial pillockry with the statement "policy in Wales is being driven by caution and fear"; and - for some comedy - marvel at Mad Stan Glantz say "I don't trust the tobacco companies" while being regularly caught telling huge whoppers (a character trait not missed by the BBC), and using the same fraudulent methods as other proven liars.

If your curiosity has been piqued, do pour your favourite beverage and go listen to the programme here.


smofunking said...

Heard this the other day and apart from the totally over the top apoplectic introduction, it's worth listening to just to hear Glantz sound like he's about to drown in his own saliva.

james dunworth said...

"This move was only headed off by a monumental response from vapers which made it impossible for the MHRA to proceed."

I think a major part of it was the election. At the time the MHRA suddenly delayed the decision because of the general election, and the Conservatives then squashed it saying they needed more time to consider the evidence.

The Nudge Group, as they are known, weren't actually around at the time of the MHRA consultation - they were appointed by David Cameron. They came out in support of electronic cigarettes in 2011 (see my post at the time ).

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Interesting. So was their spokesman being dishonest, or just inaccurate?

And I think you do down the contribution of vapers, that was one hell of a collective response and one which was impossible to ignore. Not sure the election would have directly been the cause of the MHRA backing down.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

And to hear the presenter contemptuously slap down his daft claims. ;)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

I must admit that I didn't notice it being particularly anti-smoker, apart from the hysterical intro. But perhaps if it was it's a reflection of the personal views of the presenter.

That also may explain why he sees e-cigs merely as a cessation device. Those who don't like smoking cannot understand the idea of nicotine being pleasurable so also can't get their heads around e-cigs being used merely for recreation. Much like a teetotaller can't understand the benefits of mild intoxication. It's a big disconnect between those who use the devices and the self-absorbed elites who think the world can do without them. It's also a very good argument for insisting that any legislation about any legal substance or activity should - by necessity - require input from consumers.

Everything about tobacco control in Wales is institutionally shite. I think it's another case of natural small country ineptitude. ;)

james dunworth said...

On the first question - pass!

On the second, we all put up a big fight. And whatever the reason that time, there's no doubt that it was vapers writing in their thousands to their MEPs that lead to the defeat of medicalisation in the EU parliament.