Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Five Years On And The EU Has Learned Nothing

Today Snowdon reported that the EU is set to travel to COP8 in Geneva and demand that vaping be treated exactly the same as smoking for advertising purposes.

In fact, more than that, it will demand that even scenes in films portraying smoking and vaping should be classed as advertising.
In preparation for the event, various documents have been circling the global anti-smoking community to get a consensus on what to ban next. The depiction of tobacco use in the arts is one candidate. You can read the WHO's proposal here. The most notable part of the document is the WHO's intention to include tobacco use on film and television as tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) because:
Entertainment media content such as movies, music videos, online videos, television programmes, streaming services, social media posts, video games and mobile phone applications have all been shown to depict and promote tobacco use and tobacco products in ways that may encourage youth smoking uptake... Therefore, policies that reduce youth exposure to entertainment media depictions are required.
Note the word "may" in there. Because, as usual with tobacco control, there is no evidence whatsoever except for archetypal junk science from - you guessed it - Stan Glantz. They're interfering in the public's entertainment on the say-so of criminally-conflicted and arguably insane single-issue maniacs.

As Snowdon points out, the EU delegation to the FCTC's COP8 in Geneva - of which the UK will be a part - is actually trying to get e-cigs included in this daft policy.
The EU is one of the FCTC's members and, due to its size, it is rather influential. So have they objected to this? Yes, they have. But not because the proposals are too extreme. They object because they don't go far enough. In particular, the EU wants vaping to be included.
The EU welcomes the report of the Expert Group on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and supports its recommendations... [The EU] stresses that TAPS [tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship] regulatory frameworks and their implementation at national, regional and international levels do not only cover all tobacco products, both traditional and emerging ones such as heated products, but should also consider tobacco-related products such as ENDS.
Isn't that incredible? Five years ago the EU were forced to abandon total prohibition of e-cigs - apart from medically licensed ones with a maximum of 4mg nicotine - in their Tobacco products Directive (TPD) but not without a massive struggle.

At the time ASH were arguing for exactly that too. It was only once a lighter touch was applied and Public Health England - acting on recommendations from the Nudge Unit - turned guns away from vaping, that they apparently had an epiphany. The results we have seen since on smoking prevalence are astounding.

Now, you'd think that the EU might look back on 2013 and recognise that they regulated from a position of laughable ignorance back then, wouldn't you? They should be deeply embarrassed about it. But no, today's revelations suggest that they still haven't a fucking clue.

Five years on and the EU has learned absolutely nothing, judging by this

Vapers saw back then how intransigent, opaque, anti-democratic and abusive the EU is. It is why a vast majority voted for leave in the referendum. All this is doing is proving that they were right to do so.

As I understand it from COP7 in India, any EU proposal will be subject to approval from member states in meetings prior to the event. Once a position is agreed, no member state (including the UK) will have any power to object at COP8 because the EU represents all 28.

I guess we will see how serious the Department of Health really is about its Tobacco Control Plan if it allows the EU to do this. The ASA is already working on proposals to relax advertising restrictions on e-cigs rather than prohibiting all marketing outright, so direction of travel in the UK couldn't be further removed from the EU's position. And as for the proposal to ban all media online, this could mean that even bodies like NCSCT (involved in smoking cessation) would not be able to produce films for Facebook and Twitter.

If, as I suspect, the UK Department of Health - who, remember, are advised by ASH about FCTC matters - doesn't nip this in the bud, all arguments that we are better in the EU because we can have input will be washed away. If UK government policy which has produced brilliant results can be undermined by an anti-democratic gravy train urging an entirely unelected and unaccountable global cartel - both of which entirely cut the public out of their discussions - to prohibit vaping adverts worldwide, you have to ask what is the point of being in the EU delegation when we could represent the UK instead. And boy would we be hassling the fuck out of the Department of Health if they proposed this unilaterally. We tried that with the EU and they just cocked a deaf 'un.

We're watching you DoH and ASH. Very. Closely.

This is as daft as it gets and makes me 100% certain that I voted the right way in June 2016. The more of this sickening behind-closed-doors bureaucracy we can chip away at, the better. 



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