Vapers of the World, Unite!
I wrote a critique of the so-called New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) in March 2018. What have they been up to lately?
NNA Board of Trustees’ Bios
Let’s start with the Board of Trustees on their website.
Five names are mentioned, but of one, Mary Stamp, we are told nothing except that her bio is to follow.
Of the four remaining, in order of appearance we have Louise Ross, although she’s only billed as ‘Interim Chair’. At least she does have experience in encouraging smokers to continue their nicotine addiction in the allegedly safer form of vaping. I have also written about her antics before, in a post called Stopping Smoking Through Vulgarity. She now works ‘as a freelance clinical consultant for the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training,’ no less.
Then we have Dave Cross, the news editor of the punningly named Planet of the Vapes, ‘the UK’s leading vaping resource and community,’ so he ought to know what he’s talking about. But that’s not all! His philanthropic activities extend to being ‘particularly interested in the potential of vaping to help the homeless and those with mental health conditions.’
Next up is Bernice Evans. She ‘switched to electronic cigarettes several years ago and since not smoking, has returned to a normal blood pressure level, after being on a maximum medication dosage for several years and suffering a transient ischemic attack.’ A sad story with a happy ending. But what are her qualifications for sitting on the Board? It’s her ‘previous work in the electronic cigarette sector [through which] she supported many hundreds of smokers in their journey to stop using combustible tobacco.’ Does this mean she worked in vape shop? I emailed her, twice, with this question. There was no reply. But she’s nothing if not keen, since we are told she stood as a candidate for South Wales Central in the UK 2016 General Election for the single issue political party, Vapers in Power.
Finally, we meet again the doughty Sarah Jakes. I wrote about her in another blog post, Does Vaping Induce Vulgarity? – funny how the word ‘vulgarity’ keeps cropping up in relation to vaping – so I won’t say more about her here except to quote from her bio: ‘A smoker of some 35 years Sarah switched to vaping in April 2013, only to find that the choice of this safer alternative for smokers was under threat from excessive and ill founded regulation. (My italics.)
The Charity Commission and drug addiction
I have written about the Charity Commission’s permissive attitude to nicotine addiction before, but it’s worth a look at the website where we can find a repetitive statement of ‘how NNA spends its money,’ which seems to be the same thing as its charitable objects:
Advancing the education of the public and organisations about ways to reduce harms associated with cigarette smoking; advancing the education of the public and organisations about the effects of nicotine and its uses; promoting scientific research into the safer uses of nicotine; providing information to the public and organisations about the risks of smoking and safer ways of using nicotine. [What are these mysterious ‘organisations’? Are they something separate from the public?]
Let’s re-write the above for clarity and concision:
The charitable objects of NNA are to educate the public about i) how to reduce the harms of cigarette smoking, and ii) the effects of nicotine and its uses; iii) to promote research into the safer use of nicotine; iv) to inform the public about the risks of smoking and safer ways of using nicotine.
Now, iv) is merely a repetition of ii) and iii), so we can leave it out and simplify what remains, thus:
The charitable objects of NNA are to educate the public about the effects and uses of nicotine and how to reduce the harms of cigarette smoking. We also aim to promote research into safer ways of using nicotine.
Here we run into a difficulty. Nicotine has no recognised place in the prevention or treatment of any disease, so what do they mean by ‘ways of using nicotine’? I can think of only two: as a weedkiller and the dubious one of treating nicotine addiction.
There is already a plethora of information available to the public from the UK Government, the NHS, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), Cancer Research UK, and others, on the hazards of smoking. These bodies also advise smokers to switch to e-cigarettes (vaping) if they are unable or unwilling to stop poisoning themselves with tobacco fumes.
This being the case, why do we need in addition a lay organisation like NNA to assume the role of educating the public about nicotine?
The real purpose of NNA
Of the four members of the NNA Board of Trustees, two are self-confessed vapers (the vaping status of the other two is not given) so they have a vested interest in the continuing availability of non-combustible nicotine products, in particular, e-cigarettes. This is evident from their website, where it says:
The NNA…have contributed…to improving individual, organisational, and public understanding of what is known as ‘tobacco harm reduction’ – a term used…to describe ways of reducing harm from cigarette smoking without necessarily giving up the use of nicotine. (My emphasis.)
But the idea in the emphasised words is potentially only of interest to those members of the adult British public who smoke, which at present is 14.7 per cent. This should be made clear in the statement of the objects of NNA, such as like this:
The charitable objects of NNA are to educate adult smokers about the effects and uses of nicotine and how to reduce the harms of cigarette smoking…
Now we can see the real purpose of NNA: to promote its political agenda to prevent vaping being regulated out of existence, and they are attempting to do this in the guise of educating the public. As a member of the non-nicotine using public, apart from my professional involvement, my only interest in smokers or vapers is that I wish they wouldn’t do it, at least within my sight or smelling distance. Therefore, the idea of smoking harm reduction is a cop-out, a gesture of despair, or at best, a very weak approach to the smoking problem.
And the reason for this is that the good people who run NNA are unable or unwilling to see vaping for what it is: legalised drug (nicotine) addiction. I attempted to discuss this point with Sarah Jakes but she wasn’t having any of it (see link at top of page).
Why vapers really vape
Vaping means sucking into your lungs, likely hundreds of times every day, an aerosol containing a chemical soup of nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, synthetic flavours, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, aldehydes, metal nanoparticles, volatile organic compounds, and trace amounts of other toxicants and carcinogens.
Once people start this abnormal behaviour, whether they come to it de novo or by switching from smoking, they will likely find their e-cigarette nicotine delivery device hardly ever leaves their hand. They are thus set up to vape for the rest of their lives because they will find themselves unable to stop and get in a panic if they try.
Isn’t this nicotine addiction, or isn’t it?
Text © Gabriel Symonds