The report from Public Health England (PHE) on ecigs has finally been published. You can’t fail to have noticed the headlines from the last few days about ecigs. Not only has it made the TV news networks but it’s been on the front pages of the papers too. Finally, someone has listened to the scientists.
The actual report is 111 pages long and can be found here, however for us non-science types the press release is just as good a read. The main contributors to the report are names you will be familiar with if you have read this blog before; Professors Ann McNeill and Peter Hajek. Both have been supporters of ecigs since they first began studying them and their users.
Although most of the media has focused on ecigs being available on the NHS part of the document (something which will only happen once there is actually a medically licensed version available and possibly only to the few who don’t have upfront start-up costs to buy the full kit themselves), the overall endorsement of ecigarettes by PHE comes across very strongly indeed. In fact, it comes across so strongly that a few of the anti-ecig campaigners have felt very deflated by it, with some going so far as to bring up the debunked Japanese study from a few months ago (the one that claimed there was more formaldehyde in an e-cig than traditional tobacco).
This tweet from Simon Capewell (Faculty of Public Health) is a prime example.
I don’t think other campaigners have seen the light just yet but there has been a distinct lack of counter-claims. Maybe they are learning to keep quiet when they can’t win the argument. Now they can’t make the “ban them because of the children” claim, or the “we don’t know what’s in them” claim, or any of the other rubbish they have been trying to convince us of for the last few years. What will be on the agenda next? Maybe the juice scent of wild strawberry that comes with some vapers will be next to be attacked. They can’t use the “risk to bystanders” claim anymore either, so who knows? I guess we just have to wait and see what they come out with next and be ready to show them the facts all over again when they try it.
A lot of people are seeing this announcement as great news and in many ways it is, but it won’t affect the TPD next year and although we don’t have it too bad at the moment in the UK, some other countries are really going to struggle.
Others are also wondering if this is the start of the road to taxation. Is the thought going to be that “ecigs may be 95% safer, but they still aren’t 100% safe, so we still better tax them at the same rate as traditional cigarettes (except for ecigs that are medical, of course!)”. If this information had been published last year would the TPD still be a possibility? I think that the next few months in the lead up to TPD implementation are amongst the most exciting, frustrating and scary times of this whole industry.
The evidence is starting to come through too late to prevent anything changing for the better now and we will have to wait out the next 10 years until the TPD is up for review again. How many lives could have been saved in that 10 years?
Maybe it isn’t too late though; there is still a small chance of change The legal challenge to article 20 of the TPD (the bit about ecigs) is still ongoing. If you haven’t signed up to show your support you still have time. Forty-thousand people from across Europe have signed already but more is always better!