E-cigarette summit: Day two

  • Michael Landl

Day two of the e-cigarette summit, one of the biggest events in the vaping calendar, has just finished and it was another extremely impressive list of expert contributions throughout the day. (Check out my summary of day one here if you want to catch up)

As was the case with day one, we’ve put together a short blog of the highlights of the day! We hope you find it useful and please share it widely among your fellow vapers like you did with our first blog.

I want to recognise once again the major efforts of everyone at the e-cigarette summit for a great event under difficult circumstances

Michael Landl

Director, World Vapers’ Alliance

Kicking off day two was Deborah Arnott, CEO of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). Arnott’s presentation focused on vaping regulations in the UK, from “the good, the bad and the ugly.” Her presentation looked at a wide range of vaping topics, including how UK smokers, worryingly, increasingly view vaping as more harmful than smoking. Arnott said ASH data shows that one in three UK smokers think this is the case, compared to one in five in 2019.

Next up was Professor Robert Beaglehole, of the University of Auckland. Professor Beaglehole gave a very interesting overview of New Zealand’s efforts to become “smoke-free” by 2025, stressing his belief that vaping products should play a key role in achieving that goal.

Clive Bates, the Director of The Counterfactual, focused his presentation on how smoking can be made obsolete. Bates presented a 10 point agenda that would help achieve this goal. Among the 10 points were proposals to allow “candid communication of relative risks to consumers” and “remove wasteful restrictions on e-liquid container size.”

Clive+Bates

Tim Phillips, Managing Director of EcigIntelligence, provided an overview of the vaping market around the world. EcigIntelligence estimates that there are 36.7 million vapers worldwide and that the global vaping market is worth $12.7 billion. Phillips made an interesting point on flavours, saying that the “demand” is there, but that regulations are “having an impact on the supply.”

Tim Philips

During the first Q&A session of the day, the discussion included how to tackle the risk perception of vaping among smokers and Michael Bloomberg’s influence on anti-vaping regulation. Clive Bates pointed out that Bloomberg is an “unapologetic apologist” and the billions of dollars he invests into prohibition make it extremely difficult to protect vaping. Deborah Arnott pointed out that there has long been an “antipathy to nicotine” worldwide, and the real challenge lies in changing this. Bates agreed, saying that the “war on drugs” approach to nicotine has failed entirely.

The second half of the day kicked off with a lengthy Q&A discussion on Tobacco Harm Reduction between Professor West, of University College London and ‘on the ground’ quit-smoking experts Louise Ross (New Nicotine Alliance) and Nicky Coote, Richard Holley (Local Stop Smoking Service workers). They all agreed that vaping opened up smoking cessation to new users such as people with mental health issues and the elderly. They also said that it offered hope for those who had tried all other ways to quit smoking. When discussing flavours, Holley mentioned that recently they had sent out a delivery of 50 e-liquid bottles and only 7 of them were tobacco flavoured which he used to show that flavours are critical to help people quit smoking.

Session 6 then followed which focused on Tobacco and Health inequalities. The discussion started with Professor Notley, University of East Anglia, who made it clear that there was no real evidence for the relationship between e-liquids and eventual smoking initiation. She also placed emphasis on the fact that flavours are an important aspect of switching to vaping.

Dr Sharon Cox of University College London, followed up by discussing vulnerable groups in the context of vaping. She offered great insights on the importance of informing homeless centres and other social work institutions on the benefits of vaping. She shared British research showing that 93.1% of the homeless treat vaping and smoking as the same and stressed that this needed to change. However, there were some positive signs as thousands of vape devices had been distributed to the homeless throughout the pandemic. Next up was Dr Frances Thirlway, University of York, who provided an in depth analysis of independent British Vape stores and she implored the British government to not over-regulate the independent vape industry.

After having analysed the UK, we shifted over the pond to the USA and we had several discussions on tobacco control and tobacco harm reduction. We had expert analysis on the various issues of research methods such as random controlled trials, population survey studies and longitudinal studies from Dr. Ray Niaura of New York University.

Professor Peter Hajek of Queen Mary University then provided us with what is, in my view, the quote of the summit “stopping people from vaping is unethical”. He went on to criticise anti-vaping arguments and noted that the “moral certainty” with which anti-vaping groups  make their points is dangerous.

We then received insights from Dr Jasjit S. Ahluwalia, Brown University, who took us carefully through the various arguments and nuances around vaping. He encouraged policies to be backed by science. He also made it very clear that switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes “very likely decreases the risk of cancer”.

Professor Steven A. Schroeder of the University of California then presented his keynote and criticised the anti-vaping lobby while stating that their ‘evidence’ frequently goes “beyond the science”. He highlighted that we need to control the narrative around vaping and fight disinformation.

The whole event then finished with a discussion between Dr Glynn (Stanford University), Cliff Douglas (University of Michigan), Prof. Hajek, Prof. Schroeder and Dr Ahluwalia. Their concluding remarks focused on the necessity of science and the cumulative impact of several studies over time to prove that vaping is less harmful than smoking. They reiterated that it was the duty of health organisations to educate the public of the real impact of nicotine and to further build trust in vaping as a harm reduction tool.