E-Cigarette Summit 2023
Momentous news! Later this month the 2023 iteration of The E-Cigarette Summit UK will take place under the auspices of the Royal College of Physicians, no less. This is what it’s all about:
The E-Cigarette Summit has a single aim of facilitating respectful dialogue and thoughtful analysis of the science and provide a neutral platform to explore how the evidence should be interpreted to deliver the most effective health strategies to end smoking related death and disease. (Groan)
There seem to be two aims here, no just one. In any case, obviously the Summit doesn’t aim to facilitate disrespectful dialogue and thoughtless analysis to deliver the least effective strategies, etc.
How about: The Summit aims to promote dialogue, analyse the evidence, and explore how to end smoking related death and disease.
Don’t they know how to end smoking related death and disease? I’ve said it often enough but evidently need to say it again. They should hold a summit to explore how to end smoking related death and disease by banning the sale of tobacco products.
The Summit will be chaired by that doughty e-cigarette enthusiast, Professor of Tobacco Addiction, Ann McNeill. Apart from her, many other big names are wheeled out, including Professor Sanjay Agrawal, Louise Ross, Ailsa Rutter, Dr Ruth Sharrock, and our old friend the world expert on smoking and addiction, Professor Robert West.
The introduction to the Agenda declares:
The next 12 months will be significant for global tobacco control as different countries seek to implement policies to deliver on their smoking end game strategies.
Why do they have to use such a long-winded construction? This could be simply, and more modestly, put as: In the next 12 months different countries will seek to end smoking.
Now let’s look at what some of the participants are going to talk about.
Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control Programme Lead:
The UK’s Prime Minister has announced the most ambitious and comprehensive tobacco control Plan in 20 years. Vaping policy is at the heart of the plan fully embracing the goals of maximising the opportunity for smokers to quit while guarding against youth uptake.
The notion of ‘maximising the opportunity for smokers to quit’ is indicative of the vacuousness of the whole Summit. Do smokers lament they can’t quit because they don’t have the opportunity to do so? Smokers can quit anytime the want, but this is the trouble: they don’t want to quit – that’s why they smoke. I have repeatedly drawn attention to this simple fact but all these experts seem unaware of it.
Some of the summaries of the sessions are also revealing of the ignorance that hangs over this E-Cigarette Summit beano. Examples follow:
Panel discussion Q&A: How do we balance treatment for tobacco dependence and the desire for recreational use of nicotine?
This is the problem! Why can’t they understand that nicotine is not a recreational drug? They obviously haven’t read Robert N Proctor’s magisterial Golden Holocaust, University of California Press, 2011. I quote from p 5:
‘Surveys show that most smokers want to quit and regret having ever started: tobacco is not a recreational drug, which makes it different from alcohol or even marijuana in this respect. Very few people who drink are addicted – only about 3 per cent, compared with the 80 to 90 per cent of smokers of cigarettes. Few people who have a beer or a glass of wine hate this part of their lives; they enjoy drinking. Cigarette smokers are different. Smokers usually dislike their habit and wish they could escape it. People who actually like smoking are so rare that the industry calls them “enjoyers”.’ (Emphasis in original.)
This is why the concept of tobacco control is flawed. Tobacco doesn’t need to be controlled – it needs to be abolished.
Such understanding clearly hasn’t dawned on Pascal Diethelm, President of OxySuisse, a Swiss NGO dedicated to tobacco control, who summarises his talk thus:
Tobacco Harm Reduction: too serious a matter to be left to the tobacco industry. The WHO and its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control define tobacco control as resting on three pillars: tobacco demand reduction, tobacco supply reduction, and tobacco harm reduction.
This is the trouble, again! Why talk only of tobacco demand, supply, and harm reduction? Is a certain amount of tobacco demand, supply, and harm acceptable or regarded as inevitable? Then how much tobacco demand, supply, and harm is acceptable or inevitable? Why aim so low? Tobacco harm abolition could be achieved by banning its supply, and then the demand would take care of itself.
Not to worry! The programme ends at 6.30 pm with post-summit drinks.
Text © Gabriel Symonds