E-cigarettes: Is a smoking alternative being choked by regulation?
The article quotes a sardonic e-cigarette user explaining why he decided to start vaping.
"I had a big problem with death, a really big problem with dying," he says. "I wanted to avoid dying at all costs."
It is to the author's credit that he ignores the anti-nicotine extremists and instead interviews Robert West, who was one of the few anti-smoking campaigners to oppose the ban on snus in the 1980s, equating the prohibition with “banning coca leaves and allowing the promotion of crack” (see The Art of Suppression; p. 174). In the Beeb's article, he returns to the issue, saying:
"Most of us in the field think that snus has been a lifesaver," says Robert West, who points out that Sweden has the lowest rate of tobacco-related disease in Europe.
He also makes a reasonable point about the supposed lure of e-cigarettes to the young...
"If those young people are people who would have smoked but instead they're using e-cigarettes, then that's a huge public health gain. If they're people who would never have smoked but they've taken up e-cigarettes, frankly in public health terms it's not really an issue - it's like drinking coffee or something, there's no real risk associated with it.
"The real risk is if they start using e-cigarettes and this acts as a gateway into smoking. Now which of those things happens none of us knows at the moment."
As for the idea that e-cigarettes undo the work to de-glamorise tobacco smoking, West, who has done consultancy work for nicotine cessation medication, says the public health opportunity provided by e-cigarettes lies in their remaining trendy.
"The opportunity here is for something that's seen in a different light," he says.
"We never got communities of people really enthusing about nicotine patches or nicotine gum. You didn't get a sort of nicotine gum users' group, in which they'd rave about the gum and sort of say: 'This sort of gum's so much better, and I make my own gum,' and stuff like that."
Ninety per cent of e-cigarette users are also smoking, he says, indicating that the devices are being used as a quitting aid. Countries that have banned them are, in his view, "nuts".
But—and this is the main inspiration for this post—there is this...
Jonny Lavery and others are planning a trip to Brussels next week to protest against the draft European legislation, which they see as a threat to their hobby.
Indeed they are and indeed it is. Around lunchtime on July 10th, a group of protestors will be meeting in Brussels as MEPs vote on a dreadfully flawed Tobacco Products Directive which will place these revolutionary products—along with every recreational non-tobacco nicotine product that is yet to be invented—into the hands of the instinctively prohibitionist public health establishment. If you're in the area, you'll see them because they'll be carrying black balloons like this...
I'll be fighting the good fight in other ways next week so unfortunately I can only be there in spirit. If you can go, please do. The indefatigable David Dorn of Vapour Trails TV (who supplied the above photo) bought a load of Eurostar tickets from London to Brussels. I don't know if he has any left, but if you want to go you can ask him (https://twitter.com/Hifistud). And, as a final reminder, there are still a few seats left for the big IEA debate about all this on July 15th - details here.