Thursday 15 September 2011

We Want You To Buy E-Cigs - But Not To Use Them

Well, knock me down with a monkey's crutch! Government are advocating e-cigs now?

No, seriously. That's what has been all over the media today, even on the BBC!

Encouraging smokers to switch to smokeless "fake" cigarettes could save tens of thousands of lives, according to a government-backed report.
They're talking about e-cigs. Trust me.

In its first annual report, the BIT said the government should promote the use of "safe" alternatives to cigarettes - products which deliver nicotine in a fine, pure vapour, instead of in harmful smoke which also contains toxins and carcinogens.

However, versions of smoke-free cigarettes are currently illegal in a number of countries, including Canada and Brazil, because their potential side-effects have not been fully investigated.
Or, more to the point, the brains of legislators in said countries haven't been investigated for bits of fluff and rubber band balls which should be cleaned out. Of course, this will never work with the empy-headed morons who run Australia.

The Graun chips in with this additional info.

The Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is looking into approving these devices for use. If it finds in their favour, the government is likely to push for them to be placed prominently in shops alongside tobacco cigarettes, where they would be sold at a cheaper rate.
This, for the uninitiated, is the concept of harm reduction. And it is a thoroughly good thing. How very encouraging then that the UK government is actually talking in serious terms about adopting it as a policy.

Finally, the 'nudge' unit have managed to shake off their long-ingrained authoritarian mentality and offered something of real benefit. The problem, of course, is that simply deciding that bans on e-cigs won't be pursued anymore - which had been mooted before - will be pretty useless on its own.

What would really help, though, is a bit of common sense being applied to where they are allowed to be used.

Wetherspoons have famously banned them because, well, they're fucking idiots. But misunderstanding is rife amongst proper companies with regard to such a new technology. 'Vape' in any private property which ASH have claimed as being public and you'll face a barrage of questions or, more likely, be ejected before you can point out that they are perfectly legal and not covered by the smoking ban. Being shit scared of crippling fines enforced by a pharma-enthralled government will do that to a business.

It ain't getting any easier either. In the US, hysteria has surely peaked with this quite absurd nonsense from Obama's collection of fruit-loops and wheyfaced arm-wavers.

Smoking electronic cigarettes would be explicitly banned on all domestic and international commercial flights in the U.S. under a new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"Airline passengers have rights, and this new rule would enhance passenger comfort and reduce any confusion surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes in flight," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement Wednesday.
Because comfort is obviously enhanced for vapers on long flights by banning a harmless device, and confusion is a perfectly valid reason for imposing legislation.

For years, flight attendants have spoken out against electronic cigarettes, saying passengers have confronted attendants over electronic cigarettes because some air travelers argue that the federal tobacco ban does not apply to electronic cigarettes.
Yep. It must be so difficult to educate flight attendants as to the legality of e-cigs, and for them to have the inconvenience of doing their job and talking to passengers about it.

Much easier to just pass a law to ban something inconsequential instead in the 'Land of the Free'.

The BBC report reports that Oliver Letwin is quite keen on the Behavioural Insights Team being a success.

[He] told the Lords science committee earlier this year that its ideas were not guaranteed to work, but said it was worth trying as the moves suggested were "pretty cost-free".
Perhaps, but in the particular area of smokeless cigarettes e-cigs, it has to be coupled with pointing out to businesses that they're not really helping by passing silly rules.

Although there is no UK law on the matter, British Airways, Thomson and Virgin have all prohibited them, as have many cinemas, restaurants and pubs. If e-cigs can only be vaped where smoking is already allowed, where is the incentive to put down the fags and try the electronic version?

It's a start, Oliver, but you're going to have to do better than that. Try chatting to some of your corporate friends over a nice Chablis sometime and asking them to help you out a bit, eh?

Make e-cigs welcome where users would prefer to be smoking (we'd like to have a chat about that, by the way) and you may well have a chance of success. Making them available everywhere but not usable in any place that tobacco is banned will just 'nudge' people towards carrying on with the tried-and-trusted analogue version. You might be well-advised to consider lifting the ban on snus while you're at it, too.

Think joined-up government, Olly, old chap. Or else your nudge initiative will just end up in the bin labelled "stupid ideas like the cones hotline".

UPDATE: Thanks to westcoast in the comments for the 'nudge' (see what I did there?). There is a campaign to normalise e-cig use in the form of CAM-VIP, click here for more information.

UPDATE 2: As expected - and in double quick time - Patsy offers an opposing view, I'd have been disappointed if she didn't. Do go have a read.


westcoast2 said...

"The Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is looking into approving these devices for use"

E-cigs do not need MHRA approval. Indeed we don't want the MHRA to approve and medicalise them.

They are currently regulated as general products and should stay that way.

The point about them being banned by pubs etc. Well it is their right but a bit of education could help and if there was some more support for CAM-VIP perhaps that info can get out there.

As for elsewhere, why? No one has shown the e-cig vapor harms a bystander. So what is their problem?

(btw the Vaults in Stony was Vape freindly)

Pavlov's Cat said...

Hark is that the sound of heads exploding at ASH and Big Pharma

I mean this not what they pay our politicians for. (when I say 'they' in ASH's case I mean 'we', meaning the tax & duty paid on cigarettes is then given to ASH to lobby for a ban on cigarettes)

Dick Puddlecote said...

Good call, westcoast. Have added a link to CAM-VIP.

Woodsy42 said...

Note the words "would be sold at a cheaper rate".
So they won't ban them, but how about if they put a duty on the nicotine content to keep them just enough cheaper than tobacco to move people to vaping as it's safer BUT high enough to prevent non-smokers starting.
Are you sure this isn't control and regulation. I would not celebrate yet.

timbone said...

Back in the old days, before advances in design and technology, before the first NRT appeared, (it wasn't called NRT then, just Nicorette gum), the tobacco companies made two attempts to introduce a 'safer' cigarette. The American version never got off the ground, it was about to, but fell at the final fence. The British version, with NSM (New Smoking Material) appeared in the shops, then mysteriously disappeared six months later.

Jumping forward, we have the 'safer than safer' ecig, (whose design and technology began in China I believe).

There is however a problem which, although many things have advanced, this one has not. That problem is that some people just do not like seeing anyone putting a stick (even if it is plastic and electronic) in their mouth and enjoying the enhancement of nicotine.

Curmudgeon said...

It's not a retreat, but neither is it more control and regulation. It's a slight expression of doubt, a chink in the armour.

No doubt the ASHites will rush to suppress it, but it has been let out into the public domain...


ecca said...

westcoast2 is correct. The E-Cig is not a healthcare product and shouldn't be regulated as such.

Anonymous said...

" ... placed prominently in shops alongside tobacco cigarettes ..."

Err - isn't that rather a contradiction in terms? How can something be placed "prominently" underneath the counter? Or is this a sign that maybe, just maybe, the much-touted "display ban" actually isn't going to happen .....?

Anonymous said...

I find any ban strange considering that when I was in Guy's hospital having surgery for lung cancer I was able to use the e cig with no problem. No one objected to my using or charging it, only comment was where did I get it. Don't get to excited about the LC, I have been smoking for 52 years! and it was worth it! even the surgeon thought they were a great idea, it was the only thing that worked for me.

John Pickworth said...

"The Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is looking into approving these devices for use"

And if they do?

They'll be sold/dispensed just like patches and gums are today. In fact, they'll be sold as an aid for people who want to quit smoking. Worse, the MHRA will almost certainly prevent them being advertised or sold as 'a safer alternative' to smoking.

manwiddicombe said...

John Britton, professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, told the Guardian that on top of the current smokeless range – which includes electronic or "e-cigarettes" that simulate smoking by producing an inhaled mist – there are three or four devices in different stages of development.

Does anyone else get the feeling that the plan is to 'nudge' you to e-cigs then 'nudge' you to a non-smoke imitating nicotine delivery device once that has become the norm?

Mr A said...

Hmmm, I'm a bit torn about this. While it's nice to see ASH get kicked in the nuts by the useful idiots who usually do their bidding, I tend to agree with Pat.

True, it may help some people who are currently unaware of ecigs and who want to give up smoking, and that is a good thing (key word being "want"), And as I say, it's good to see ASH refused on something. In addition, the widespread use of ecigs may also "re-normalise" smoking to a certain extent, in the way that some people with ecigs still vape outside or vape furtively because the mere act of lifting a white tube to your mouth attracts the ire of the busybodies and prodnoses, so lots of people doing it will get rid of that "knee jerk" reaction of intolerance that ASH etc have spent billions incubating.

Then again, it also acts as a weapon against smokers' rights, because if they do become "sanctioned", then every argument for lifting smoking bans is easily countered with, "Hey, what are you complaining about? You can vape - what more do you want?" (Plus, a sizeable minority of vapers are ASH-like in their arseholiness).

Personally, I don't like vaping - I don't like the taste, they give me headaches and they make me cough (whereas I have NEVER had a smoker's cough with normal fags.... ever). As much as I love the act of smoking, if I had a choice between vaping and giving up I'd probably go for the latter, to be honest.

So all in all, I'm a bit torn about this development, although I think short-term, putting ASH and their Pharma paymasters back in their box and renormalising the act of relaxing in public, exhaling grey vapour and lifting a white tube to your mouth is probably worth supporting.

Mr A said...

To use another sex metaphor (like Timbone), to me smoking is to vaping what having a week of passionate sex with a supermodel in a Parisian penthouse is to being hunched over a twenty year old copy of Razzle in a bedsit. The end result is the same but there comes a point where you just think, "This isn't actually a pleasant substitute and in some ways I'd rather not bother."

And I think it all comes from the Puritan misunderstanding of the pleasure of smoking. To me, it's not about nicotine, as I have proved to myself on the dozen or so occasions when I have stopped smoking for weeks or months at a time. It's ABOUT the smell, it's about the sensation, the taste. Until they come up with a real cigarette with real smoke that doesn't have nicotine etc in it, then I'm not interested. It's just a sensual gut thing, like sitting in front of a roaring wood fire or sitting in front of a high-end gas fire. Both have flames. Both make you hot. But only one makes you think, "Wow, a real fire. That's relaxing!"

Anonymous said...

Watch for a Big Pharma e-cig soon, complete with full trials and drug approval. All other e-cigs will be banned.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 06.54. Buying the solution in bottles makes ecig use very cheap. Drug companies will bring out a "safer" very expensive to use version and all all others will be banned.

Dr Evil said...

These are not drug delivery systems really. if they are classed as such then tobacco cigarettes must also be likewise. This is utter bonkers nonsense!

Unknown said...

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Winston Churchill

The last few weeks appears to have shown a shift, albeit small, in public and political perception of the e-cigarette.

The middle of the successful battle is the meeting of the minds that allows for determination of the outcomes destiny. It is quite odd that a pharmaceutical begins as a generic product and may end as a dispensable medication.

I suppose it is like Willy Sutton remarked to the question, "Why do you rob banks?" His answer,"Because that is where the money is.

I suppose if polled, your parliament would reply, Why legalize and medicalize the e-cig- the answer might be the same.

Anonymous said...

I think this heralds the entrance of the bog boys and their e-cigs. They have been doing trials on these for a few years,( I know someone who did a write up on the R&D of these a few years ago for a bg ompany, but had to sign secrecy clauses) the MHRA will sanction e-cigs with tight controls that the pharma and BAT have already achieved. wave bye bye to the independent e-cig seller.

Jay said...

Recently, I flew on Virgin Atlantic to the states with my e-cigs in my bag. Just before takeoff, the pilot announces that e-cigs can't be used. So I asked our flight attendant why they weren't allowed.

She said, "We don't allow them because some passengers might confuse them for the real thing and think it's OK to smoke a real cigarette."

While I can completely understand that far too many people are complete morons and would confuse the two products, it's just stupid to not allow them for that reason alone. (Ultimately, I went into the toilet to use my e-cig.)

While in the States, I bought some snus for the flight home, which was great. Now we just need the moronic, ass-hat politicians in Europe to un-ban snus...

Click A Cig Vapor Cigarettes said...

True, this is simply an absurd nonsense. Personally, I can't find a significance as to ecigs being banned. Though it could be because they don't want to imply that smoking is okay in public places. Oh for crying out loud, it's vapor and not smoke! lol. It's just as described by Jay, ecigarettes imitating the look of real ones sometimes generates confusion. In fact, I've read an actual news of a bus being halted by the SWAT because of ecigs. It's just plain idiotic... oh wait, let me rephrase, it's moronic actually! lol. On the other hand, the ban maybe implemented because the government actually feels the loss in revenue they get from big tobacco and pharma industries. No offense to anyone I may have offended but what happened to our freedom of choice? As long as we don't bother or endanger anyone, why don't they leave us be? lol.

Kind Regards,

jessicarobert said...

Electronic Cigarette and other conventional cigarettes are dangerous for any person because both types of cigarette become a cause of different diseases like cancer and etc. So we should avoid to smoking.