Take cue from landmark UK e-cigs report

October 03, 2018

You’ve got to hand it to the British.

They churn out great stuff–from Alexander Fleming’s James Bond, from the Beatles to Blondie, from Mr. Bean to Tony Blair.

They are true trailblazers.

They have been there and done that.

They have been around for the longest time.

In fact, it is used to be said that the sun never sets on the British Empire—that’s how vast it was.

To be sure, the Brits must have known something we have yet to discover.

Consider smoking-cessation and transitioning technology.

Local vaping groups are calling on the Philippine government to consider the United Kingdom Parliament’s report urging the UK government to relax regulations on e-cigarettes to reduce the harms associated with tobacco use and help more people quit smoking.

“E-cigarettes are helping many people in the UK quit smoking. The government should seriously consider the UK tobacco control model in order to reduce the  harms caused by conventional cigarettes to Filipino smokers,” said Peter Paul  Dator, president of The Vapers Philippines.

“The Philippines will remain a backwater country in the area of tobacco harm reduction if the Department of Health continues its ill-informed and myopic position on e-cigarettes. It’s high time that the DoH take its cue from the UK and other countries that have acknowledged the growing body of scientific evidence supporting e-cigarettes and tobacco harm reduction,” said Joey Dulay, president of the Philippine E-Cigarette Industry Association (PECIA).

Published recently by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, the report entitled “E-cigarettes” concluded that e-cigarettes should not be treated in the same way as conventional cigarettes, noting that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than conventional cigarettes.

In its Tobacco Control Plan 2017-2022, the UK government clearly stated its intention to support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products, particularly e-cigarettes. However, the parliamentary report pointed out that, “e-cigarettes…are too often being overlooked as a stop smoking tool by the NHS [National Health Service, the UK public healthcare system]. Regulations should be relaxed relating to e-cigarettes’ licensing, prescribing and advertising of their health benefits. Their level of taxation and use in public places must be reconsidered.”

According to the report, around 2.9 million people in the UK are currently using e-cigarettes, with an estimated 470,000 using e-cigarettes as a stop smoking tool and tens of thousands successfully quitting smoking each year as a result.

The report called on the UK government to consider risk-based regulation to allow more freedom to advertise e-cigarettes as the relatively less harmful option, and provide financial incentives, in the form of lower levels of taxation, for smokers to switch from conventional cigarettes to less harmful alternatives such as e-cigarettes.

The report said that the risk of continuing to use conventional cigarettes is greater than the uncertainty over the long-term use of e-cigarettes. It called on the UK government to support independent long-term research on e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn products. Heat-not-burn products only heat tobacco, which generates a flavorful nicotine-containing vapor. Because the tobacco is not burned, the levels of harmful chemicals produced by heat-not-burn products are significantly lower compared to combustible cigarette smoke.

In the report, Member of Parliament and Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Norman Lamb, urged businesses, transport providers and administrators of public places to stop viewing conventional and e-cigarettes as one and the same. “There is no public health rationale for doing so.” The report recommended a wider debate on how e-cigarettes are to be dealt with in public places to help identify solutions that at least start from the evidence rather than misconceptions about their health impacts.

Lamb pointed out that there is no evidence to support that e-cigarettes are a gateway to conventional smoking, including for young non-smokers. E-cigarettes if used correctly could be a key weapon in the NHS stop smoking arsenal, he said.

“E-cigarettes are a proven stop smoking tool and, while uncertainties undoubtedly remain about their long-term health impact, failing to explore the use of e-cigarettes could lead to the continued use of conventional cigarettes, which currently kill around 79,000 people in England every year.”

According to Lamb, medically licensed e-cigarettes would make it easier for doctors to  discuss and recommend them as a stop smoking. He recommended an urgent review of current approval systems for prescribing e-cigarettes.

The report is based on around 100 pieces of written evidence and five oral evidence sessions with expert witnesses. Although the report does not set official policy, the UK government must publicly explain in writing if it refuses to follow the report’s recommendations.

Behold God’s glory

And seek His mercy

Pause and pray, people