Sunday 5 June 2016

Plain Packaging For E-Cigs, WHO Didn't See That Coming?

Just imagine, for a moment, that car manufacturers found that there was a way of making more profit from electric cars than from ones run on fossil fuels. And imagine if environmental campaigners decided that their irrational and psychopathic hatred of the motor industry was far more important than the environment so demanded electric cars be taxed to the hilt, advertising of them banned and the technology which facilitated them crippled.

Or, imagine if energy companies discovered a way of making more money from wind farms than from other electricity-generating methods, but greens were more interested in attacking the industry so demanded that environmental claims in favour of wind farms should be prohibited. That solar panels should be considered just as harmful to the environment as coal-burning power stations and demonised in the same manner.

You'd think that the environmental movement had gone stark staring bonkers and weren't really interested in the environment at all, wouldn't you?

Well, that's exactly what the tobacco control industry appears to be doing yet governments still fail to see it.

Consider this world class cuntbungling muppetry from international NGO The Union (The International Union Against TB and Lung Diseases) this week.
‘We welcome the global momentum behind plain packaging and encourage countries to introduce this powerful measure for reducing tobacco use as soon as they reasonably can,’ said Dr Ehsan Latif, Director of the Department of Tobacco Control at The Union. ‘But we must ensure we properly close this final door on tobacco marketing experts. At present, e-cigarettes offer almost unrestricted opportunities to continue relentless pursuit of their target market – children and young people. Restriction of e-cigarette marketing is at best ad hoc, at worst non-existent. ’ 
‘We welcome the new European Union Tobacco Products Directive which goes some way to limit e-cigarette marketing, and we recommend that other regions take a similar approach. But as with tobacco, a comprehensive package of demand-reduction measures working in tandem is the only effective way to block tobacco companies’ compelling marketing campaigns,’ said Dr Latif. ‘Point-of-sale displays and online advertising campaigns must be banned. Plain packaging for e-cigarettes could be standardised in a similar way to tobacco products – without decoration, branding, or misleading labelling and with relevant health warnings. Product design must also be standardised to reduce attractiveness and to prevent children consuming toxic liquids.’
Yes, you did read that correctly. This swivel-eyed clown wants to see plain packaging for e-cigs and a total blackout of any kind of advertising of them (shurely shome mistake, eh Debs?).

Why? Well, as you can see above, the drive is more about destroying the industry than about health. The guy doesn't really have any concern for health at all. Either that or he is an absurd incompetent and should be fired immediately.

This backward and counterproductive attitude runs like lettering through rock in every tobacco control utterance. Consider, for example, the RCP's otherwise excellent report on e-cigs which carried a bizarre, unsubstantiated load of conspiracy theory nonsense slap bang in the middle of it.
The tobacco industry has become involved in the e-cigarette market and can be expected to try to exploit these products to market tobacco cigarettes, and to undermine wider tobacco control work.
What a load of paranoid crap. If there are big profits in harm reduction, any industry would chase them, but tobacco control really doesn't care anymore, it just wants to attack big business.

In other markets (environmentalism is a good example) the thrust has always been to find ways of encouraging businesses to promote more advantageous products to the cause of the campaigners. An article by J. Robert Branston from (of all places) the University of Bath described the approach very well in February.
But what if the state stopped slapping down the industry and instead shepherded it towards a more desirable future, one where public health improves and cigarette firms stop acting like cornered animals fighting for their existence? Why not fix the market so other less deadly products were more profitable instead? 
In this situation the industry would actually want its consumers to move away from cigarettes because it would make more money from doing so. The changed market environment would present the firms with a powerful reason to escape from their current business. 
Governments have deliberately tilted markets in this fashion before. We switched from leaded to unleaded fuel because governments used a combination of carrot and stick policies to shepherd the auto and fuel industries in the right direction. They are doing it again now by favouring clean forms of energy like wind and solar power, over polluting sources such as the burning of coal and gas. 
Such transformations, however slow, can happen when the economic incentives change. The desired products are given favourable tax treatments, subsidies and advantageous regulations, while products to be phased out are subject to heavy taxes, onerous regulations, and measures directly constraining the profit to be made.
Indeed. In the case of tobacco control and e-cigs, though, government doesn't even need to get involved. All that's required is that they leave the market the hell alone. Tobacco controllers know this very well, the ASH emails show us that quite clearly.

Deborah is pretty damn clear about this, saying "Margins are growing on e-cigarettes as the market grows and evolves; by 2017 margins could be higher than current conventional cigarette margins of around 40%".

If profit margins are higher for reduced risk products, industry big and small will naturally be attracted to them over and above whatever else they sell. This is economics 101 but - instead of using this as a reason for less regulation of e-cigs - ASH has decided to employ it as a reason why more restrictions and burdensome obstacles should placed in their way, and boy are they lobbying hard for them! As I've been illustrating in recent days, all leave is cancelled and they're working in shifts to desperately impose as many burdens on e-cigs as possible.

Do you think they have an agenda which has bugger all to do with health by any chance?

Of course they do, and it is dictated from on high by the unelected and corrupt World Health Organisation. Firstly, if government ever did decide to "shepherd" the tobacco industry "in the right direction" as Branston suggested in his article, they'd have to do so blindly without even talking to the industry about what might be advantageous because the WHO's FCTC article 5.3 demands that meeting industry is not allowed, most especially if it is to do with formulating policy. In this country that manifests itself in occasions like we saw in November where the WHO's faithful tax-sucking lapdog Sheila Duffy attended the Scottish parliament and tried to threaten elected politicians.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine, again, that environmentalists didn't just want improvements in the environment, but that they actively wanted to see all motorised transport and energy production shut down. You think that's daft? Not in tobacco control circles it's not.

The Moscow Declaration issued at COP6 in Moscow in 2014 makes it clear that no nicotine products will be tolerated.
The Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control 
NOTES that: 
tobacco companies are exploring new ways of maintaining dependence and encouraging use, developing new tobacco products and nicotine-delivery systems, making them fashionable, technological and innovative; 
CALLS ON the Parties: 
to monitor new forms of tobacco products and tobacco and nicotine use and take steps to minimize the introduction and proliferation of such products through prohibition or restrictions of manufacturing and promotion and sales as provided for by the WHO FCTC, its guidelines and protocols;
Rather than encourage industry away from products that the WHO despises, they would prefer to destroy any moves to change the status quo (for which tobacco controllers get highly-paid, fancy that).  But it's to be expected because it's a three line whip within tobacco control industry circles that national governments must adhere to the rigid and immovable rules of the FCTC.

And what do the WHO FCTC guidelines and protocols say?
Article 5 General obligations
2. Towards this end, each Party shall, in accordance with its capabilities:
adopt and implement effective legislative, executive, administrative and/or other measures and cooperate, as appropriate, with other Parties in developing appropriate policies for preventing and reducing tobacco consumption, nicotine addiction and exposure to tobacco smoke. 
Harm reduction is clearly not part of the global tobacco control industry's agenda. At the next big WHO bash in India in November, it's quite possible that we will see calls to tax e-cigs as tobacco products; more demands for vaping bans; for marketing and advertising bans on vaping products; and, yes, plain packaging.

Especially as the FCTC tweeted support for the Union's e-cig plain packaging lunacy on Wednesday.

Yes, the link was to the Union's Spanish language demand for plain packaging of vaping products.

Perhaps this stupid prehistoric attitude to industry will change at COP7 in India, who knows? Perhaps the FCTC will see the light and stop placing hurdles in front of new technology, but instead embrace it and - just as Branston described has happened in other policy areas - "make the companies actually want to fundamentally change the nature of the products they sell" by setting innovative disruptive technology free of pointless and absurd regulations.

It could well happen, but it will take the FCTC changing its entire approach and altering many of its core mission statements. Fortunately for us, the UK's main representative in India will be vaper-friendly fan of THR deregulation Deborah Arnott ... oh, hold on.

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