Sunday 25 February 2018

Incoming! F1 Enters Alternative Nicotine Debate

Hello Moto! Mock-up of how branding could look courtesy of here
Oh boy, this might irritate some but I have to say it. The influx of new nicotine devices is making so many look naive, and not all of them are tobacco controllers.

For example, isn't this divine?
Philip Morris International and Scuderia Ferrari have announced they have extended their partnership until 2021 and will focus on advancing the cause for “a smoke free world”. 
The partnership will be exclusively focused on promoting scientifically substantiated, less harmful alternatives to cigarettes. 
Philip Morris has partnered with the Formula One team for more than 40 years, but due to a European Union ban on tobacco advertising, the company has not been able to display its brand at any race since 2005, although China and Monaco allowed branding until 2007. 
PMI’s chief executive officer, André Calantzopoulos said: “We want to give the world’s 1.1 billion men and women who smoke the opportunity to make better and informed choices. 
“We are committed to use all available resources, including our motorsports related activities, to accelerate momentum around this revolutionary change for the benefit of people who smoke, public health and society at large. We deeply appreciate Scuderia Ferrari’s support in this cause.”
So. Your move, tobacco control, what are you gonna do?

The reason this is so very interesting is that the EU's TPD bans any advertising of e-cigs - whether they contain nicotine or not - and snus which is of course banned everywhere except Sweden, but doesn't cover iQos. Additionally, the device itself is allowed to be advertised (as things stand) but not the Heet sticks that go in it.

It's a clusterfuck of regulation driven by a cocktail of tobacco control ideology and utter ignorance.

Now, my guess is that - yet again - the tobacco control industry will double down on its routine insistence on promoting its own cult-like puritanism over and above new products which could reduce risk, and demand that promotion of heat not burn technologies are banned too.

However, it would make sense for tobacco controllers, if they weren't so much up their own pay packets that they are licking their wallets from the inside, to encourage the advertisement of any product which encourages smokers away from tobacco, wouldn't it? But they won't.

This is, as I continually remind you, because the tobacco control arm of 'public health' has never been interested in health, but merely its own seat at the tax trough.

In the meantime, I expect a whole load of angst-ridden PMI/tobacco industry bashing from e-cig industry and supporters, conveniently forgetting that their case is also rooted in the same Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) justification as heated tobacco is.

Of course, instead of bleating, we could all join in and demand of rancid organisations that vaping products, and snus, be permitted on F1 cars and elsewhere too, but many are too busy 'partnering' with our 'public health' people - attached to the same government department which testified against snus at the ECJ last month - and lobbying against other alternatives. It's such a short-term view and must be such a relief to tobacco controllers as they seek to undermine the very idea of THR (remember that the woo-touting conspiracy theorists at Tobacco Tactics tell the world that harm reduction is a concept wholly concocted by 'Big Tobacco').

Everyone involved in selling THR products should be making a huge noise about the right to advertise, but instead some seem to be caught up in premature - and I would argue, pointless - market in-fighting.

Listen guys, get the concept of THR properly understood by politicians first and foremost; let them know that tobacco control has no real drive or desire to consider these disruptive technologies despite stunning success, then argue the toss about whose products work better once you are finally allowed to use marketing to do it.

Not that there would be much cross over anyway, apart from a bit of nibbling at the margins, someone who loves an independently produced e-cig is not going to be anyone who a tobacco company is interested in selling an iQos, a Vype or a pouch of snus to, anymore than a smoker who is happy with a tobacco industry cigalike will be interested in buying components from four different independent websites instead of picking it up at Tesco.

Look, the alternative nicotine delivery industry is still in its adolescence if not infancy, but if it is to succeed and reach full potential there are a whole lot of people who need to wise up. It's not a surprise that tobacco control is hypocritical on the subject - it is in the anti-smoking paranoiacs' DNA, after all - but when did the THR mantra cease to apply when it's not the product that you, personally, would choose? The question many need to ask themselves is "do we believe in THR, or do we not?". 

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