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January Roundup

February 1, 2018

We want to bring you all you need to know about everything vape culture! In January 2018, British parliament met with academics to discuss the latest health-based evidence for using e-cigarettes over tobacco cigarettes. Meanwhile, in America, the FDA rejected the health claim that “smokeless cigarettes” are a healthy alternative to smoking. And in Greater Manchester, Cancer Research UK launched a pilot campaign to raise awareness for e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes.

Parliament gets the lowdown on vaping – In January of this year, The Commons Science and Technology Committee sat with Professor Riccardo Polosa, Professor Peter Hajek and Dr. Jamie Brown for a comprehensive discussion on what is currently known about vaping. During the meeting, the emphasis was put on how much healthier vaping is comapred to smoking and how vapes can be used to help smokers give up for good.

The inquiry was instigated following mixed messages in the media around the topic of vaping recently. Compared to the US, the U.K. is pioneering how to market vapes as an alternative to smoking. America’s emphasis as nicotine as the enemy was considered the reason for the disparity between the two countries and their attitudes towards vaping. Overall, the meeting may very well have had a positive impact on British attitudes towards vaping.

An F.D.A. panel denies Philip Morris’ claim that electronic tobacco sticks are safer than cigarettes – the recently marketed “smokeless cigarettes” have been at the centre of heavy scepticism the entirety of their short existence. The new technology is called IQOS and is made up of a tube that gently heats cigarettes as an alternative to how we typically consider smoking cigarettes – by burning them. Proponents of the new technology claim that by using heat and not flames, 90 – 95% of toxic compounds in cigarette smoke are eradicated. But health officials are worried that these kind of products may not only prohibit people from quitting smoking altogether but lure in a new generation of smokers who believe it’s a healthier way to indulge.

The new technology is being pioneered by Philip Morris International in an attempt to counteract their declining tobacco cigarette sales. However, the FDA panel stated that the company should not be allowed to claim that IQOS reduces the risk of smoking-related illness compared to cigarettes.

To a group of health officials, evidence given by a tobacco company for the ‘health benefits’ of its tobacco products was never going to be an easy sell because, like every other company involved in the tobacco industry, Philip Morris hid for years the evidence that cigarettes do in fact cause cancer.

Not only did the panel reject the IQOS health claims, they doubted the argument that the technology would cause smokers to give up traditional cigarettes, instead hypothesizing that many users would instead become smokers of both traditional and IQOS cigarettes. The one thing that committee and Philip Morris did agree on was that by heating cigarettes, the product would probably limit the user’s exposure to certain chemicals – but not by enough to consider it a ‘healthy’ alternative.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) showed its support for vaping with a pilot campaign throughout Greater Manchester – If you were in Manchester between 15th January and 18th February, you wouldn’t have been able to miss the images on buses, billboards, bus stops, phone kiosks, washroom posters, bus tickets and anywhere else they could fit them!

The outdoor advertising campaign was dreamt up to combat a few common misconceptions surrounding e-cigarettes. Namely, that they are just as unhealthy as tobacco cigarettes. The key messages of the campaign are that research has demonstrated vaping to be far less harmful than smoking because E-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, which is proven to cause cancer. While they may contain nicotine, the addictive compound of smoking, it isn’t responsible for the major health harms from smoking. And the truth is, many people are now using e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking. The use of e-cigarettes has become so popular in recent years, they are now the most popular method for quitting in England and Cancer Research UK is on board!

On top of the outdoor campaign, CRUK has also been busy online with paid Facebook posts running throughout the UK in opposition to the recent scare story that vaping causes cancer. Success will be measured via surveys, supported by interviews.

And in UK Parliament, academics began what has become an ongoing discussion on e-cigarettes. A House of Commons inquiry on Tuesday heard evidence on the health impacts, regulatory challenges and financial considerations surrounding vaping in the U.K., giving experts another chance to counter common criticisms of the technology.

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