In a poorly disguised piece of political lobbying, two state-funded Swedish ANTZ groups wrapped up a call for extreme measures on vaping in a huge “Think of the Chiiildren” blanket this week.
Their demands for public vaping bans, total bans on advertising and marketing of e-cigarettes and flavour bans are ridiculous measures that will have the biggest effect on adult smokers, vapers and vendors. So the only way they could present them to the public (without provoking laughter, followed by calls for their funding to be stopped), was to link all these prohibitionist wet dreams to the fact that it isn’t currently illegal to sell ecigs to under-18s.
As I have written before, the only reason why the Swedish government has been unable to follow other EU countries and introduce sales bans to under-18s is because they can’t legislate such restrictions while the Medicines Authority is busy in court trying to classify (and therefore ban) all ecigs as illegal medicines. Whatever your views on the potential harms/benefits of under-18 sales bans, the “problem” is one created by Sweden’s bureacracy, NOT by “evil” vendors. And as also covered before, vendors in Sweden are displaying admirable responsibility in this area. Under 18s are likely to be getting hold of ecigs from the same people they get cigarettes and snus from, despite the long-standing bans on under-18 sales for these products.
They even had the gall to squeal about rising “ever-use” of ecigs as evidence of the inevitability of the now legendary “gateway to smoking”. Yet the National CAN Survey of 16-18yo Swedish students that they cite with such outrage shows quite clearly that smoking rates have been dropping (as they have in every other country with ecigs, eh Prof Chapman) with each and every year that ecigs have been available. If 16-year-olds have actually discovered this mythical gateway, they’re taking an age to walk through it.
The authors represent two groups that might be familiar – one became infamous for organising a “fall-down-and-die” prank – a la South Park (complete with a Pfizer fiddler to call the tune), and for their bizarre “Let’s peer-pressure (sic) Daniel Radcliffe into stopping smoking” campaign and also for building a “Fear Clinic” in Minecraft, complete with burny, smoky things on the wall and a shrink to talk to. They also have some dubious partners when you consider their attitude towards vaping. The other group seem to like to spend their time throwing “snus cushions” around at political events. For this article, they threw in all the usual lies, misinformation and junk-science to “support” their demands, which were exposed by Atakan Befrits here.
But the real humdinger, hidden at the tail-end of a paragraph about health risk wibble, was a statement of “fact” that, as far as I am aware, has only ever been reported second-hand by journalists and ANTZ groups, in a “Don’t blame me, I’m as thick as pigshit when it comes to reading and understanding science, so I’ll use the handy prefix “according to this study/ this researcher”” kind of way.
They wrote “E-cigarettes can cause…an increased risk of lung cancer.”
Now that’s a pretty bold thing to write in a national newspaper. Particularly when the assertion is made with no evidence whatsoever to support it. I contacted a few Swedish vendors to bring this to their attention, figuring that at the very least they ought to demand some sort of official, written apology, even if they refrain from calling the lawyers. One of the vendors got on the case immediately, and penned this reply to the article.
It actually contains a reasonable response to the gist of the article given the limited space allowed, stating that everyone in the industry would welcome sensible but proportional regulations. But it then drifts into an oddly protectionist vibe, calling for a stop to the trade in “unregulated products, mostly from China”, which, given there is currently no regulation anywhere (apart from the 17-odd national & EU regs covering electronics & general consumer, natch), is exactly what they themselves sell.
The reply does make vague reference to the original authors’ wild and unsupported scaremongering, but stops short of mentioning the elephant in the room. Then it encourages the government to slap sin taxes on ecigs.
Some days, there simply aren’t enough facepalms to go round.