ASH UK has just released a PDF on e-cigarette regulation:
The regulation of e-cigarettes and other nicotine products in the UK
The ASH document is mostly based on the MHRA’s most recent e-cigarette regulation standards plan.
This white paper’s cleverly disguised disinformation, along with its establishment viewpoint on regulation, are balanced with an occasional dose of truth.
This can give the impression that it is a well-informed viewpoint on e-cig policy, when in fact it contains a list of factual and logical flaws (or deceptions, depending on your perspective).
Some of the blame for these problems belongs to the MHRA, but ASH has granted it its full support and thus must take part of the blame.
The foundation of this paper is that pharmaceutical licensing of e-cigarettes and/or accessories is both a good idea and a foregone conclusion in the United Kingdom / European Union, and it presents the ASH viewpoint on the ensuing effect.
It incorporates the MHRA’s provisions and explains why ASH thinks the criteria are a good idea.
If they truly believe this, they must be blind to a slew of concerns. Finding anybody so devoid of a basic understanding of the challenges would be difficult.
Because of this lack of awareness, the document’s argument is probably driven by pragmatism.
Fortunately, medicalisation is unlikely to succeed, owing to the global rejection by courts of the pharmaceutical business’s use of legislation for commercial purposes.
The courts have gone on to make it abundantly clear that e-cigarettes are a consumer goods rather than a medical one (low alcohol beer, decaff coffee, e-cigarettes, and other consumer Harm Reduction products are clearly not medicines).
As a result, the majority of / all of the information in the ASH PDF is irrelevant, which is fortunate since a significant portion is pure fantasy, blind ignorance, or cynical lies – depending on how charitable you feel toward ASH.
This industry is full of deception. You’re probably already aware that anything from the tobacco control world (which ASH is a member) contains more lies per square inch than the cigarette business ever managed; this document is an example of such behaviour.
It’s possible that such papers include honest mistakes and a poor understanding of probable outcomes; if so, they’re awfully consistent in that regard.
A less charitable viewpoint on papers like these is that they are full of lies, published by liars for reasons unrelated to public health.
If that is your view, it will be difficult to dispute it on a fact-based basis: there are a plethora of mistakes, some of which the ASH document must be aware of, as well as many examples of intentional misrepresentation of facts; and if the EU / MHRA regulations backed by the ASH paper were implemented fully, public health would be severely harmed.
As an example, most of the million-plus e-cigarette users in the United Kingdom would likely revert to smoking. It is not considered beneficial to public health when millions of people resume or do not quit smoking; however, in ASH’s fantasy world, it may be – things are so far removed from reality that anything is conceivable.
This demonstrates, above all, how to defend cigarette sales against major challenges (and in the UK, against the only significant one).
ASH is attempting to deny access to consumers, regulate e-cigarettes out of the market (depending on how severe it is), and restrict them to the medical sector, which represents less than 1% of overall sales; in addition, it takes away e-cigarettes from small businesses that created the market and gives them to large tobacco and pharmaceutical corporations.
The main consequence is that sales would plummet, and e-cigarettes would no longer represent a competitive threat to tobacco cigarettes (ignoring the development of a significant black market, which is guaranteed).
When consumer THR products are the only realistic way to decrease smoking in the UK significantly, I believe that ASH is working to protect cigarette sales and opposing public health by publishing this op-ed piece in favour of e-cigarette bans (i.e. virtual removal of half of a binary system by medical licensing of the refills).
It’s a fair question to ask if they’re paid to do it by the cigarette industry, or by the pharmaceutical business that benefits significantly from smoking; or if it’s simply to safeguard, promote, and prolong smoking as long as possible in order to preserve their own employment.
The complexness of the problem
The entire scenario has grown so intricate that it is difficult to predict what will happen: the EU TPD with its complex current form and unknown future status.
The EU is attempting to balance health and tobacco classification, as well as transpose it into UK legislation; future legal battles both in Europe and the United Kingdom; how much the MHRA will be able to get away with; and so on.
As a result, it would be perfectly acceptable to dispute every point in ASH’s paper (and my responses) and declare, “However, this is extremely unlikely to occur.”
Because of this, to be able to comment at all, certain assumptions about the future, or one particular version of it, had to be made.
Too much regulation is harming the uptake of vaping, and some governments are not following the long term clinical trials that prove vaping is a better alternative to smoking. In fact, many smokers are unaware of the benefits of vaping and how it can help them quit smoking for good.
Vaping has been shown to be 95% safer than smoking, yet many smokers still don’t know about this life-saving technology. This is largely due to excessive regulation from government agencies that are more interested in protecting Big Tobacco’s profits than helping people quit smoking.
We need sensible regulations that will allow vapers to access the products they need without overburdening them with red tape.