Friday 4 June 2010

Fighting For Harm Reduction

I've commented a number of times, and at length, on the tendency of health-related public consultations to be engineered in such a way as to marginalise the views of the, err, public.

There are many ways of doing this, the most popular ones being the straightforward exclusion of the public, the flooding of the process by state-funded pressure groups, the manipulation of responses to avoid the 'wrong' conclusion, or the use of clever wording designed to encourage the respondent not to object.

My! Having just re-read that ... we are East Germany, aren't we?

Anyway, back to the point. Of the methods described above, it is the last which is being employed by public health bodies in an attempt to ban e-cigs despite their carrying no risk whatsoever, as illustrated by this extract from the recent MHRA 'consultation' exercise.

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. Currently, MHRA operates a strict practice regarding the period of notice operators are allowed to comply with under the Marketing Authorisation Regulations following the classification of a product as medicinal. Given that these Regulations do not make explicit provisions for a staged withdrawal from the market of an unlicensed medicinal product, immediate cessation of the sale or supply is usually required by the Agency, with written confirmation of the same within 21 days.

Option 2 – Whether products containing nicotine should be considered by the Agency to be medicinal products by function and, if so, whether a notice should be issued to manufacturers that all marketing must cease by a certain date e.g. June 2011. After this date enforcement action would be taken against manufacturers not holding an MA for any such product on the market. This would effectively allow manufacturers a year from the end of public consultation to produce relevant evidence to support an application for an MA, submit it to the MHRA for approval and get the newly licensed products on to the market.

Option 3 – Do nothing and allow these unregulated products containing nicotine that have not been assessed for safety, quality and efficacy to remain on the market.

The MHRA’s preferred option is option 1, which is in line with current practice.
You see, e-cigs are a great tool for many who wish to quit smoking. It is also unarguable that they are safer than cigarettes so offer harm reduction potential. Unfortunately, though, they are not - tut, tut -manufactured by public health's chums in the pharmaceutical industry, plus e-cig users look like they're smoking. And that is just too offensive a sight for the righteous.

Still, e-cig users continue to fight for their right to 'vape' and, on Wednesday, delivered a hefty petition to Downing Street as a reminder that there are many who are quite happy to risk the non-existent dangers.

I wish them the very best of luck.

It will be interesting, in this new 'enlightened' era of the coalition, to see if the government are serious about personal liberties and decide to kick this ban proposal into the long grass, or whether they will continue with serially-proven public health policy failures like Labour.

Learn more at the UK Vapers Forum.


Anonymous said...

It won't be possible to stop the purchase of ecigs or nicotine solution in the UK. Snus is available by mail order and I know someone who gets all his tobacco posted from Germany. Banning ecigs or trying totax nicotine solution to match the extortionate price charged by drug companies will just result in dodgy nicotine solution being sold illegally. This is madness.

JJ said...

As someone…like many others who visit this site on a regular basis and have become steeped in the relentless machinations against smokers and smoking by the pernicious ant-smoking lobby…it isn’t difficult to see where this will go.

If the coalition have any gonads, then they will stamp this nasty little shit pile into oblivion and lay down their marker…I somehow think DP that a safer cigarette will never see the light of day.

A safer cigarette is of no consequence to the self righteous shit-bags who inhabit this planet…their only reason for living is to eradicate anything whatsoever that would give credence to a cigarette that could ever be smoked safely.

However many novel ideas that spring up like new shoots from the Tobacco Industry – they will never be allowed to put down roots of any kind.

It would be a brave politician who stood tall against the zeitgeist of Tobacco Control.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'me wrong
Wetherspoons allready has a ban on
ECigs and so do some bingo companies.
As with the smoking ban these companies will press for a ban on e-cigs in the interests of
"a level playing field"
And it goes without saying we will
all lie down ,roll over and let them

Wont we ?

Well not all of us.


timbone said...

It is a repeat of what happened in 1979. A 'safer' cigarette was about to be launched, in stepped the health lobby in the USA and it was stopped.
A similar thing happened in the UK at round about the same time. The 'safer' cigarette containing NSM (new smoking material) was advertised and even appeared on the shelves. It lasted about six months, and misteriously disappeared without any explanation.

James said...

The pharmaceutical companies that in part fund the anti-smoking lobby don't want a safe cigarette because then they won't be able to sell nicotine cessation aids. As NRT has a 5% success rate, the pharmaceutical companies have just as much a captive and recurring market as the tobacco companies.

But Anonymous 1 is right. If e-cigs are banned in the UK they will just be brought in from abroad, depriving the government of tax revenue and removing the current trading standards regulations of the devices.

Dick Puddlecote said...

James: 5% success rate for NRT? No. Try 1.6% :-)

Anonymous said...

I have been quite succesfull
with my Benson and Hedges
Replacement Treatment,its

*Amber Leaf Roll Your Own
(Purchase in Spain..£3.70p per
50 grammes = 4 packs=92p per pack

Oh and my Jarre (1 pint)
of galicia 5.2% dark strong costs
2 euros (£1.60p) in my smoking ban
exempt Club del Reconquista

Chin Chin

Godos Malaguenos