Did Glantz & ANTZ help to destroy ecig ban?

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Ecigs are NOT medicines.

This was the conclusion of the Swedish Administrative Court today, ending a rollercoaster case that has been dragging on for over two years. The Swedish Medicines Agency Läkemedelsverket took an ecig shop to court under the presumption that nicotine-containing ecigs and eliquids should be regulated under medicines law and regulation. The Court has finally decided that ecigs should not be subjected to this law or any medicines regulation. It is a huge win for consumer-driven tobacco harm reduction and freedom of choice.

The most sublime part of this ruling was the fact that Läkemedelsverket’s case was built on their claim that since ecigs are effective cessation products, they should be brought under their juristiction in line with patches, gums, Chantix and other medicinal cessation products. The court ruled that after consideration of the available “evidence”, they didn’t consider ecigs to be effective cessation products.

So in their own special way, anti-vaping buffoon Glantz and the army of junk-science spouting “researchers” around the world have helped to prevent ecigs being banned as illegal/unlicensed medicines. It’s a delightful irony that a case whose central premise appeared to have been “These things are awesome cessation products, let’s ban them” has been rejected.

Of course anyone who cares to look around them and see the amount of ex-smoking vapers there are knows full well that ecigs are a superb choice for those who would like to switch to a less harmful product. And thanks to the junk science of Glantz et al, many more Swedish smokers will continue to get the opportunity to try for themselves.

So thanks Stan & friends. You have inadvertantly helped Swedish vapers to win one battle. Now the war really begins in earnest, as vapers, harm-reduction advocates and enlightened politicians fight both the TPD and the inevitable attempts of the Swedish government to gold-plate it.

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The mask always slips

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There was an interesting presentation given by Daniel Wikler, Professor of Ethics and Population Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, at a seminar in Stockholm last week. It was notable for  a number of reasons.

Firstly, among the audience were a number of Sweden’s tobacco controllers. I imagine they were choking on their biscuits every time Wikler talked positively about snus in particular and harm reduction in general.

Eyebrows must also have been raised when he spoke glowingly about the mass migration to vaping by the smokers of the world, and that this could well be put at risk by the sort of harsh and prohibitive regulations being demanded by zealous tobacco controllers, and being delivered by their tame and spineless politicians.

He hinted at the ability of consumer harm reduction products like snus and ecigs to act as prophylactics, and seemed to recognise their power to prevent significant population-level take-up of smoking by young people. Which is all very welcome, and exactly the sort of challenging thinking we would expect from a professor of ethics.

He even talked about the remarkable levels of positive consumer activism, and dashed the tiresome “astroturf” label that is so often bandied about by anti-vaping groups when they are unable to meet vapers’ arguments and evidence head-on.

At the beginning of his presentation the professor seemed to be trying to shock his audience with audacious pronouncements – that in the future he wanted to see a wide range of products, that devices should be powerful, that nicotine levels and/or delivery should be higher. Worryingly, he didn’t seem aware that this has already happened, that his “pipe-dream” is in fact the status quo, and that EU and FDA regulations are about to destroy it at the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen. He also drifted off into a little “the Chinese make some weird shit, we can’t trust ’em” riff, which ought to have set some vapers’ alarm bells ringing.

But we’ll forgive him his ignorance of the market and imminent legislation for the moment. What’s important is that he seemed to be advocating exactly the sort of free-market, laissez-faire situation that has been at the very core of vaping’s success.

But alas, he works in public health and tobacco control. And so at some stage he was bound to let the mask slip. And when it did slip, we saw the unquenchable thirst of the public health industry to control other people’s lives and choices.

It was at this point that he introduced The Plan.

The plan included such bizarre, market-distorting wibble as “The World’s governments should hand out 180 days’ worth of whatever THR product suits them best.”

I guess it’s an admission at least that “Handing out unlimited amounts of patches and gum” has been an abject failure. But it still stinks on so many levels. He then swiftly moved on to some of the prohibitions required by his plan:

Vaping lounges? They’d have to go. Because The Children.

Sweet flavours? Oh no. Because The Children.

Advertising? Gotta go. Because The Children.

And then he delivered the punchline: “Basically what we’re looking for is a medicalisation of these products.”

It’s worth noting at this point that he was addressing the very swivel-eyed prohibitionists that are demanding public vaping, flavour and advertising bans in Sweden, and where the courts are deciding whether to prohibit ecigs completely as unlicensed medicinal products. It must have been music to their ears.

The global free-market for vaping products via bricks & mortar vape shops and online suppliers, with only the light touch of standard consumer regulations to ensure basic standards are met, is working perfectly. The last thing we need is yet another do-gooder from public health standing up and saying: “This is excellent. We must change it.”

The mask always slips.

 

Hot or cold – How would you like your surströmming Sir?

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For those of you who enjoy vaping Swedish Fish, surströmming is one variant you’re unlikely to see at your local vape store any time soon. It’s among the most rank-smelling food products the world has ever known. But I’d happily scoff down a tin or two if it meant escaping the heads-I-win-tails-you-lose situation facing the ecig industry right now.

The Swedish government published its 174 page transposition of the Tobacco Products Directive today. I was expecting this mighty tome to contain a whole raft of gold-plating additions to the dismal Article 20 laws on ecigs. But there weren’t any.

Does this mean that Swedish vapers will only be subjected to the daftness of the common-or-garden Article 20, with no added wibble?

No. Or at least, not yet anyway. Because the document notes that they haven’t really bothered to look at Article 20 yet. That’s because everyone’s still waiting for the court judgement on whether ecigs are medicines. If it’s decided that they are, the government confirms that they’ll be regulated (banned) as such. If they’re not, then and only then will the government whip out Article 20 and get to work implementing it, with or without gold-plating.

The court decision is imminent. A cynic might conclude that with so little time left, the government has known for some time what the decision will be. But I would never question this fine institution.

In the absence of any fresh insight as to how things are going to pan out, the standout element of this document for vapers was the inclusion of some of the policy proposals from “stakeholders” – i.e. anyone but the public who will actually be affected by these new laws. And regular readers of this blog might be able to hazard a guess as to whose mask slipped the furthest.

That’s right – it was everybody’s favourite state-funded glantzian troughers.

“Tobaksfakta consider that e-cigarettes should be completely forbidden, because of the risk that they attract children and youth into nicotine addiction.”

Head, meet desk. Again.

It’s hardly a suprise I suppose, coming as it does from an organisation that includes health fascist Margareta “I’m not a health fascist” Haglund, but it’s yet another reminder of the need to put a stop to the considerable influence these creatures have on policymakers around the globe.