Vaping

Oxfordshire’s plan to become smoke free is yet another example of state overreach

In February of last year, Ansaf Azhar, the director of public health for Oxfordshire county council, unveiled the “Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Strategy”. Azhar had decided that the proportion of people living in Oxfordshire who smoke – 12 per cent – was too high and needed to be slashed. When fewer than five per cent of people smoke, an area can be considered “smoke free”. Azhar made it his mission to make Oxfordshire England’s first smoke-free county.

The Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Strategy was signed offby the county council in principle in May last year. You would be forgiven for thinking that since then, the director of public health at a local authority might have had more pressing matters to attend to than smoking. But Azhar has apparently continued his crusade against cigarettes undeterred.

He has now horrified right-thinking people up and down the country by declaring the council’s intention to ban smoking for outdoor hospitality. Although the plan currently lacks an implementation timetable or any other firm commitment, the fact that it is part of the plan at all says some very worrying things about the direction we’re heading in.

In the new world order of the nanny state, everything can be neatly categorised into good and bad. Everything is black and white – it’s all either vital or morally reprehensible. Once it is accepted that an activity is objectively “bad”, who could possibly oppose its being banned?

Of course, the real world, outside the offices of “directors of public health”, is rather different. It is not all black and white. There are lots of shades of grey. But nuance and freedom of choice aren’t all that fashionable these days.

Unfortunately for smokers, cigarettes have been deemed a social evil. Their existence is so objectively awful that the reasoning behind drastic measures to wipe them from the face of the earth doesn’t even need justifying. The result is that ludicrous policy proposals like the Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Strategy can be signed off and made reality with startlingly little scrutiny from those we elect to represent us and safeguard our civil liberties.

If you can bear it, I recommend a cursory read of the offending document, for novelty value if nothing else. It talks not of blanket bans, sweeping restrictions and ill-thought-out curbs on our freedoms, but instead of “creating smoke free environments”, as though we are being given a gift of something new to enjoy and ought to be grateful.

Most troubling is the way the document’s authors seem to be in complete denial that they are wielding the tools of the state at all. They write: “The interventions required to successfully de-normalise smoking and achieve a smoke free Oxfordshire may be considered as “nanny statist” or an assault on personal choice by some people. The whole system approach to make smoking less visible is not banning the choice of people who choose to smoke. It aims to create smoke free environments in more places in our communities, protecting the free choice of the nine out of ten residents of Oxfordshire who choose not to smoke.”

Oh, you thought our harsh new restrictions on what you can and can’t do in public were an assault on your freedom, did you? Don’t worry – if you look carefully, you’ll find that bans on common activities actually give you more freedom, not less.

The counter-factual logic behind the introduction of new regulations in the name of “public health” knows no bounds. If the council actually wanted to make Oxfordshire healthier, it would see that the answer is not to put yet more unnecessary strain on the hospitality industry at this impossibly difficult time.

Instead, the council should throw all its efforts behind supporting vaping as an alternative to smoking. More than half of Britain’s e-cigarette users – around 1.7 million people – are former smokers. Those nine out of ten Oxfordshire residents who don’t smoke won’t have to worry about any health risks from second-hand e-cigarette vapour. Even Public Health England concedes – with a great deal of reluctance – that vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking.

And yet, in the 24-page Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Strategy, there is not a single mention of vaping, the most effective instrument for tobacco control we have. That begs the question: what do the public health authorities actually want, if it is not to make people healthier? When they flagrantly eschew proven harm reduction tools in favour of gratuitous centralised policy interventions, it becomes impossible to sympathise with their motives.

This problem stretches much further than Oxfordshire. In fact, the county is only a few years ahead of national public health outcomes. Its strategy mimics that of Public Health England, which is working towards Matt Hancock’s target of making England smoke-free by 2030.

The attack on effective harm reduction methods and the swing towards a new age of nanny statism comes from the very top. Last week, the World Health Organisation honoured the health minister of India for his work on “tobacco control” which notably includes banning vaping. A new APPG, chaired by Mark Pawsey, the Conservative MP, seeks to bring to a halt the WHO’s pernicious influence in areas like this. That task becomes more difficult with each passing day.

Originally published here.

Pesan Inovasi dari Peringatan Hari Vape Sedunia

Sejumlah aktivis dan ilmuwan dari berbagai belahan dunia menghadiri peringatan Hari Vape Sedunia pada 30 Mei 2021. Salah satu topik utama dalam pertemuan virtual ini adalah pentingnya pemahaman mengenai dampak positif inovasi produk nikotin, yang terdiri dari vape, tembakau yang dipanaskan (HTP), snus, dan kantong nikotin atau lebih dikenal di Indonesia dengan sebutan Hasil Pengolahan Tembakau Lainnya (HPTL). Produk-produk tersebut berpotensi lebih rendah risiko dan dapat membantu perokok untuk berhenti. Namun, kurangnya pemahaman para pembuat kebijakan akan produk-produk tersebut membuat perkembangannya melambat.

“Inovasi pada produk nikotin sudah terbukti memberikan dampak yang positif. Inovasi teknologi yang ada pada produk HPTL bersifat netral dan lahir dari kebutuhan pengguna akan alternatif produk tembakau yang lebih minim risiko. Sayangnya, terkadang hal ini belum didukung dengan regulasi yang sesuai, sehingga prosesnya terhambat,” kata Yael Ossowski, Wakil Direktur Consumer Choice Center.

Ossowski menambahkan, masih banyak pihak yang menganggap bahwa vape dan rokok konvensional merupakan hal yang sama. Ini merupakan salah satu alasan utama mengapa produk HPTL belum mendapatkan regulasi yang sesuai. Selain itu, temuan ilmiah masih belum dijadikan acuan utama dalam merumuskan kebijakan. 

Kondisi ini dinilai sangat disayangkan, di mana penelitian terkait produk HPTL saat ini semakin banyak dan berkembang. Profesor Bernd Mayer, Ahli Toksikologi dari University of Graz, Austria mengatakan “Berbagai penelitian sudah membuktikan bahwa vape lebih rendah risiko daripada rokok konvensional. Oleh karena itu, upaya mendorong para perokok untuk beralih ke produk alternatif merupakan hal yang tepat.”

Pada kesempatan yang sama, Cristiana Batista dari Asosiasi Vape Portugal (APORVAP) menjelaskan bahwa vape merupakan salah satu hasil penemuan terbesar karena dapat membantu perokok untuk berhenti. Menurutnya, inovasi ini harus disambut dengan insentif dari segi regulasi yang dapat membuat produk ini lebih berkembang dan berdampak positif. Batista menambahkan, “Saya sangat optimis dengan vape karena produk ini dapat membantu saya berhenti setelah menjadi perokok selama 16 tahun.”

Mendukung bukan menghentikan 

Forum turut mendiskusikan tentang pendekatan baru dalam mengontrol prevalensi merokok di sebuah populasi. Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) atau pengurangan dampak buruk tembakau adalah pendekatan yang menitikberatkan pada pentingnya memberikan alternatif yang lebih rendah risiko untuk para perokok. Untuk menerapkan pendekatan tersebut, pemerintah perlu mendukung produk-produk HPTL melalui berbagai instrumen regulasi. 

Sebaliknya, melarang produk-produk tersebut merupakan pilihan yang kurang tepat. Menurut Ethan Nadelmann, Pendiri dan mantan Direktur Eksekutif (2000–2017) Drug Policy Alliance menjelaskan bahwa pelarangan terhadap opsi-opsi alternatif yang rendah risiko justru dapat melahirkan konsekuensi-konsekuensi yang tidak diinginkan. “Ketika Anda melarang sesuatu, hal tersebut tidak membuatnya menghilang begitu saja, permintaan pasar akan tetap ada dan itu membuat jutaan orang kembali ke pasar gelap untuk mendapatkan apa yang mereka butuhkan,” tambah Nadelmann.

Originally published here.

Tantangan Membela Hak Pengguna Vape

Isu mengenai rokok elektronik, atau yang dikenal juga dengan vape, merupakan salah satu isu yang cukup kontroversial di berbagai negara di dunia, termasuk juga di Indonesia. Berbagai pihak memiliki pandangan yang sangat kontras dan jauh berbeda antara satu dengan yang lainnya.

Bagi sebagian pihak, vape atau rokok elektronik adalah hal yang sangat berbahaya, dan maka dari itu harus dilarang demi melindungi kesehatan publik. Di Indonesia misalnya, salah satu pihak yang mendukung adanya larangan tersebut adalah Ikatan Dokter Indonesia, atau IDI. IDI mengungkapkan, vape justru mengandung zat-zat berbahaya bagi kesehatan (mediaindonesia.com, 25/9/2019).

Kesehatan publik tidak bisa dipungkiri memang merupakan masalah besar di berbagai negara di dunia. Bila suatu negara memiliki jumlah populasi masyarakat yang sakit dengan angka yang tinggi, hal ini juga akan semakin meningkatkan beban negara untuk membiayai program kesehatan tersebut. Belum lagi, orang-orang yang dapat menggunakan tenaga dan pikiran yang mereka miliki untuk kegiatan-kegiatan yang produktif akan semakin berkurang.

Namun, melindungi kesehatan publik tidak semudah membalikkan telapak tangan, salah satunya dengan hanya melarang produk-produk tertentu yang dianggap berbahaya. Ada unintended consequences yang harus kita pikirkan masak-masak bila kita ingin mengambil kebijakan tersebut.

Hanya karena kita melarang suatu produk yang dianggap bisa membahayakan kesehatan, bukan berarti lantas kita dapat menghalangi seseorang untuk mendapatkan produk tersebut. Selain itu, hal lain yang tidak kalah pentingnya adalah, bila ada produk serupa yang jauh lebih berbahaya beredar di pasar daripada produk yang ingin dilarang, maka larangan tersebut berpotensi tidak memiliki dampak apapun, dan justru dapat menjadi kebijakan yang kontra produktif.

Berdasarkan laporan lembaga kesehatan publik Inggris, Public Health England (PHE) misalnya, rokok elektronik atau vape memiliki dampak 95% jauh lebih tidak berbahaya dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar. Secara ekspilist, bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional, maka resiko dari menggunakan rokok elektronik sangat kecil (theguardian.com, 28/12/2018).

Sangat penting ditekankan dalam hal ini bahwa, laporan PHE tersebut bukan berarti menyatakan bahwa vape atau rokok elektronik adalah produk yang sepenuhnya aman. 95% jauh lebih tidak berbahaya dan sama sekali tidak berbahaya adalah dua hal yang sangat berbeda.

Tetapi, berdasarkan laporan dari PHE, bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar, vape atau rokok elektronik jauh lebih aman. Dengan demikian, bila produk rokok elektronik dilarang, sementara rokok konvensional tetap dibolehkan, maka tentu aturan tersebut adalah sesuatu yang mengada-ada dan tidak akan memiliki dampak yang signifikan.

Tidak hanya itu, bila ada kebijakan pelarangan vape atau rokok elektronik, maka hal tersebut adalah bentuk pelanggaran hak terhadap seseorang untuk mendapatkan alternatif produk yang jauh lebih aman. Besar kemungkinan, mereka yang sebelumnya ingin mengkonsumsi produk vape, karena tidak bisa mendapatkan produk tersebut di pasar, bukannya justru mengurungkan keinginannya, tetapi justru beralih ke produk rokok konvensional yang jauh lebih berbahaya.

Inilah salah satu tantangan besar terkait dengan membela hak para pengguna vape di berbagai negara di dunia, salah satunya tentunya di Indonesia. Banyaknya kesalahpahaman terkait dengan vape atau legalisasi produk tersebut, merupakan salah satu penyebab dari potensi lahirnya berbagai aturan yang justru tidak produktif.

Hal ini diungkapkan juga oleh oleh Presiden World Vaper’s Alliance(WVA), Michael Landl. WVA sendiri merupakan organisasi internasional yang membela hak-hak para pengguna vape di seluruh dunia.

Dalam wawancara yang saya lakukan dengan Landl bulan Maret 2021 lalu, ia mengungkapkan bahwa banyaknya misinformasi dan “ideologi” anti vape yang berkembang di berbagai tempat merupakan tantangan terbesar dalam membela hak-hak pengguna vape di seluruh dunia, untuk mendapatkan produk yang relatif lebih aman. Hal ini merupakan hal yang tidak mudah, meskipun berdasarkan penelitian ilmiah vape merupakan produk yang jauh lebih aman dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional (Landl, 2021).

Sebagai penutup, pentingnya legalisasi produk rokok elektronik bukan berarti mendukung bahwa seluruh anggota masyarakat untuk menggunakan rokok elektronik setiap hari. Hal ini adalah sesuatu yang penting, khususnya karena para perokok dapat menjadi terbantu untuk menghentikan kebiasaan mereka yang sangat berbahaya, dan beralih ke produk lain yang terbukti jauh lebih aman.

Efektifitas vape sebagai produk yang dapat membantu para perokok untuk menghentikan kebiasaan merokok mereka yang sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan merupakan hal yang sudah terbukti di berbagai penelitian. National Health Service (NHS) Inggris misalnya, telah menyatakan bahwa menggunakan produk rokok elektronik dapat membantu para perokok untuk mengelola kecanduan mereka terhadap nikotin (nhs.uk, 29/3/2019).

Karena hak untuk mendapatkan kesempatan untuk menikmati kehidupan yang lebih sehat merupakan hak yang wajib dinikmati oleh setiap individu, dan harus dilindungi oleh pemerintah. Jangan sampai, karena ketidaktahuan, misinformasi, hingga idelogi yang kita miliki, kita merampas hak tersebut dari saudara-saudara kita.

Originally published here.

Canadian Cancer Society supports vape tax, as nearly one-third of Sask. teens vape daily

Canadian Cancer Society regional manager Angeline Webb says they support the 20 per cent provincial tax on vapour products.

She says price measures have been proven to reduce vaping among youth and adults.

“Currently, vaping products are quite affordable so we want to price kids out of the market.”

The provincial government says the additional cost will help “prevent vapour products from being attractive to youth and non-smokers.”

Health Canada research shows that 30 per cent of teens in Saskatchewan vape on a daily basis, according to Webb.

She says research from Health Canada and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control shows that teens who vape are three times more likely to start smoking.

In Saskatchewan, consumers currently pay six per cent GST and six per cent PST on vape products.

The province’s Bill 32 would add 14 percentage points to the price of vapour liquids, products and devices on Sept. 1, 2021.

The federal government is conducting research to support a ban on flavoured vape products sales in Canada – a move Webb says is supported by the Canadian Cancer Agency.

Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia have banned all flavoured e-liquids and vape products. Quebec and New Brunswick are also considering restrictions to flavoured vaping products.

“Flavoured vaping products are enticing to youth who try and continue to use vaping products because of the flavours,” said Webb. “People who use vape products are 30 per cent more likely to develop a serious respiratory illness.”

However, Kevin Tetz, co-owner and operator of Inspired Vapor Company, says vaping reduces the taxpayer healthcare burden by reducing smoking-related disease and death.

David Clement, North American affairs manager for Consumer Choice Center, a North American consumer advocacy group, agrees with Tetz.

Clement says Bill 32 will place higher costs on both nicotine and cannabis vape products for consumers.

“This is ultimately going to throw consumers under the bus, specifically adult consumers and smokers who use vape products as a means to switch away from smoking cigarettes,” said Clement.

Vape stores can’t sell to people under 18 years and stores are required to block their windows to prevent their products from being in public view.

Blaine Tetz, co-owner of Inspired Vapor Company says he smoked for over 30 years and tried to quit smoking using the nicotine patch, prescription drugs, hypnosis and will power. He was able to quit smoking in 2017 after he started vaping.

“I gradually worked my way out of smoking cigarettes until I didn’t want them anymore and the only reason I was able to do that was because I had a replacement for the nicotine,” said Tetz.

Tetz now owns and operates three vape shops in partnership with his son in Melfort, Prince Albert and Humboldt. He says he has over a thousand customers in his customer data base who have told their store they have been able to quit smoking with the help of vapes.

He says their stores sell many kinds of “vape juice,” some non-nicotine flavoured liquids to nicotine liquids of various concentrations.

Blaine Tetz says a flavour ban would “decimate the industry.”

There are no provincial laws against vaping inside, including bars, restaurants, hotels, etc. unless specified by the individual establishment.

Some municipal governments such as the City of Saskatoon have passed by laws restricting where people can vape.

Originally published here.

Nhìn nhận khách quan trước những chiến dịch chống thuốc lá điện tử

Các nhà khoa học trên thế giới đang có nhiều ý kiến trái chiều về quan điểm đối xử với thuốc lá điện tử. Tuy nhiên, mới đây, họ bắt đầu tỏ ra nghi ngờ mục đích và động cơ từ những nguồn tài trợ nước ngoài cho các cơ quan Chính phủ ở các quốc gia đang phát triển để hậu thuẫn việc ra chính sách bài trừ sản phẩm này.

Thậm chí, có nhà khoa học còn chỉ ra rằng các chiến dịch chống lại thuốc lá điện tử là một sai lầm nếu như các cơ quan y tế nhận tiền tài trợ để kiên trì phản đối bất chấp lý lẽ cũng như vận động hành lang các nhà lập pháp nói “không” theo ý của họ.

Trong một bài viết của mình đăng trên trang bách khoa về từ thiện Philanthropy (*), tác giả Marc Gunther cho biết vào tháng 9/2019, Michael Bloomberg, nhà từ thiện tỷ phú, và Matthew Myers, chủ tịch của Tổ chức phi lợi nhuận Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (Chiến dịch trẻ em không thuốc lá), đã công bố một chiến dịch kéo dài ba năm trị giá 160 triệu USD để chấm dứt những gì họ mô tả là dịch bệnh sử dụng thuốc lá điện tử ở trẻ em .

Tác giả nhận định chắc chắn là tổ chức từ thiện Bloomberg Philanthropies đã sử dụng tiền và ảnh hưởng của mình để hạn chế việc sử dụng vaping (một loại thuốc lá điện tử). Nhưng những người hoạt động trong nhiều thập kỷ để giảm tử vong do hút thuốc nói rằng chiến dịch chống thuốc lá điện tử đang diễn ra là sai lầm, không có cơ sở khoa học và có khả năng gây hại nhiều hơn lợi.

Còn tờ the Brussel Times (Bỉ) trong một bài viết của nhà báo Yaël Ossowski (**) cho rằng bất chấp sự xuất hiện của một giải pháp hút thuốc có công nghệ hiện đại và ít gây hại hơn, một tổ chức được tài trợ đã nỗ lực để cấm hoàn toàn vaping bằng cách tham gia soạn thảo một loạt các dự thảo luật, tặng quà cho các cơ quan y tế cho các chiến dịch vận động hành lang. Điều này đã được hỗ trợ bởi sáng kiến toàn cầu có tổng trị giá 1 tỷ USD của tỷ phú Michael Bloomberg về kiểm soát thuốc lá.

Tại Philippines, một cuộc điều tra liên bang cho thấy các cơ quan quản lý y tế đã nhận hàng trăm nghìn đô la từ một tổ chức từ thiện liên kết với Bloomberg trước khi họ đưa ra dự thảo luật cấm các thiết bị vaping. Các đại diện của Quốc hội nói rằng luật được trình bày không có gì phải bàn cãi và chỉ được đưa ra sau khi Cơ quan Quản lý Thực phẩm & Dược phẩm nhận được khoản tài trợ lớn.

Ở Mexico, một luật sư của “Chiến dịch trẻ em không thuốc lá”, một trong những nhóm kiểm soát thuốc lá lớn nhất toàn cầu do Bloomberg Philanthropies tài trợ, đã soạn thảo luật hạn chế nghiêm ngặt việc nhập khẩu và bán thiết bị vaping. Người ta cáo buộc rằng Carmen Medel, Chủ tịch Ủy ban sức khỏe của Hạ viện Mexico, đã ký hợp đồng với tổ chức từ thiện này để “tư vấn” về luật, nhưng cuối cùng lại đệ trình một dự thảo luật vẫn có tên của vị luật sư của tổ chức này.

Điều này được kết hợp bởi các cuộc điều tra liên tục về ảnh hưởng của các tổ chức phi chính phủ nước ngoài đối với các chính sách tương tự ở Ấn Độ, nơi Thủ tướng Narendra Modi đã quyết định cắt đứt quan hệ với tổ chức từ thiện Bloomberg sau khi các cơ quan tình báo trong nước của ông đưa ra lo ngại.

Nhà báo Yaël Ossowski cho rằng: “Thật không may, mặc dù hoạt động từ thiện của Michael Bloomberg có ý nghĩa quan trọng và có mục đích tốt, nhưng các nhóm nhận số tiền đó để kiểm soát thuốc lá đã mắc phải sai lầm chết người khi đánh đồng thuốc lá điện tử với thuốc lá truyền thống. Và điều đó sẽ gây tổn hại đến sức khỏe toàn cầu trên quy mô lớn”.

Trong khi đó, giáo sư Kenneth Warner quan tâm đến việc kiểm soát thuốc lá. Ông là một thành viên ban sáng lập của Truth Initiative – tổ chức y tế công cộng phi lợi nhuận cam kết chấm dứt sử dụng thuốc lá. Ông Warner cũng là chủ tịch của Hiệp hội Nghiên cứu về Nicotine và Thuốc lá, biên tập viên khoa học cấp cao của báo cáo kỷ niệm 25 năm của Surgeon General về hút thuốc và sức khỏe, và là hiệu trưởng của Trường Y tế Công cộng của Đại học Michigan.

Ông nói: “Michael Bloomberg đã làm những điều tuyệt vời cho sức khỏe cộng đồng. Nhưng về vấn đề này (tác hại thuốc lá điện tử có thể gây tử vong), ông ấy có phần đi quá đà”. Bài viết cũng cho rằng những nhà khoa học khác của phong trào kiểm soát thuốc lá cũng chia sẻ quan điểm này.

Trong khi đó, theo lập luận của các nhà phê bình, trong khi thuốc lá điện tử và thuốc lá điếu truyền thống đều chứa nicotine, một chất kích thích hóa học gây nghiện có nguồn gốc từ thuốc lá, thuốc lá điện tử ít nguy hiểm hơn nhiều so với hút thuốc lá. 

Trong bài báo khoa học “Bằng chứng, báo động và tranh luận về thuốc lá điện tử”, năm chuyên gia y tế công cộng khẳng định rằng việc hạn chế tiếp cập vào các sản phẩm thuốc lá điện tử trong khi vẫn để thuốc lá truyền thống có tác hại hơn trên thị trường là sai lầm. Các tác giả bao gồm Cheryl Healton, cựu giám đốc điều hành của Truth Initiative, là hiệu trưởng của trường y tế công cộng thuộc Đại học New York, cũng như các trưởng khoa y tế công cộng tại các trường đại học Bang Ohio và Emory.

Điểm chung của các văn bản luật của các tổ chức nhận được tài trợ biên soạn đều đề xuất cấm nhập khẩu các sản phẩm thuốc lá thế hệ mới vì cho rằng các sản phẩm này độc hại không kém gì thuốc lá điếu.

Trong khi đó, các nhà khoa học đang chứng minh điều ngược lại. Giáo sư John Newton, Giám đốc về Cải thiện Y tế, Y tế Công cộng Anh còn cho rằng, thuốc lá điện tử (vaping) là một trong những công cụ hỗ trợ cai nghiện hiệu quả nhất hiện nay, giúp khoảng 50.000 người bỏ thuốc lá mỗi năm. Châu Âu đã trở thành một trong những thị trường ủng hộ thuốc lá thế hệ mới và có chính sách quản lý thuốc lá thế hệ mới “dễ thở” hơn so với thuốc lá truyền thống.  

Originally published here.

Rights4Vapers is Disappointed in Juul’s Decision to Abandon Adult Vapers

Juul Labs Canada has put its bottom line and relationship with the federal government ahead of the needs of its consumers by pulling out of the Vaping Industry Trade Association of Canada (VITA) and abandoning the fight to maintain a wide variety of flavours for adult vapers.

Vapers from across the country have told us that they wouldn’t be vaping today without flavours.

“By giving up on flavours, Juul has clearly demonstrated that adult consumers are less important to them than their desire to cozy up to the federal government,” said Maria Papaioannoy, spokesperson for Rights4Vapers, Canada’s leading vapers consumers’ rights movement. “My heart breaks for the millions of adult vapers who look to Juul as a leader in the industry. These Canadians have been deceived by Big Vape.”

Rights4Vapers believes that flavours are an important component to the vaping experience for adult smokers. Flavours help smokers migrate from traditional cigarettes to vapour products.

“Vapers from across the country have told us that they wouldn’t be vaping today without flavours. They want something that doesn’t remind them of cigarettes and the taste of tobacco. Many will go straight back to smoking if flavours are banned nationally. Or they will go to the black market for their products. We’ve already seen it on a small scale in Nova Scotia,” said Ms. Papaioannoy.

Nova Scotia’s vapers have two choices, they can either find the flavours they want on the black market or they can go back to smoking. The regulations in Nova Scotiawent too far and have turned vapers back to smokers. “A recent survey shows more people may be going back to regular, combustible cigarettes. The poll by Abacus Data shows about 29 percent of the vaping population in Nova Scotia is at risk of switching to cigarettes.”

Other jurisdictions that have banned flavours have seen similar results. The Consumer Choice Center observes that “investigations in the states of New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have already shown that a booming black market has emerged in response to flavor bans.”

“To be clear, Rights4Vapers does not believe minors should vape, have access to vapour products or be sold these products. There are many laws already on the books to stop the sale of vapour products to minors. Let’s enforce them and stop punishing adult smokers by denying them a product that may help save their lives,” said Ms. Papaioannoy.

But do not take our word for it. In 2019, Parliament conducted hearings on amendments to the Tobacco Act (Bill S5). Experts told the federal government that flavoured vapour products are important. It’s time that the government listens. See link to a compilation video.

Originally published here.

Kebijakan Vape dan Peran Pemerintah yang Ideal

Isu mengenai rokok elektronik, atau yang dikenal juga dengan istilah vape, saat ini merupakan hal yang kerap menimbulkan pro dan kontra di berbagai negara di dunia. Berbagai pihak memiliki pandangan yang berbeda tentang bagaimana kita menyikapi produk-produk rokok elektronik tersebut.

Sebagian pihak, ada yang menganggap bahwa vape atau rokok elektronik adalah produk yang sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan. Vape dilihat sebagai produk yang memiliki dampak tidak jauh berbeda dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar pada umumnya, dan dapat menimbulkan berbagai penyakit kronis seperti kanker.Oleh karena itu, mereka yang memiliki pandangan vape sebagai produk yang sangat berbahaya umumnya akan mengadvokasi pemerintah untuk melarang seluruh produk tersebut. Hal ini dianggap sangat penting dilakukan untuk mencegah dampak yang berbahaya dari rokok elektronik terhadap kesehatan masyarakat.Di Indonesia misalnya, pandangan ini diungkapkan oleh Ikatan Dokter Indonesia (IDI). IDI menyatakan bahwa vape adalah produk yang sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan, dan oleh karena itu harus dilarang oleh pemerintah (cnnindonesia.com, 14/9/2019).

Di sisi lain, ada juga yang memiliki pandangan bahwa vape merupakan produk yang relatif aman, atau setidaknya tidak seberbahaya rokok konvensional yang dibakar. Untuk itu, bila pemerintah melarang produk rokok eletronik, kebijakan tersebut merupakan sesuatu yang tidak tepat.Lantas, diantara opsi tersebut, apakah peran ideal pemerintah terkait dengan produk-produk rokok elektronik?

Kenyataannya, pandangan bahwa rokok elektronik merupakan produk yang sama berbahayanya dengan rokok konvensional adalah pandangan yang keliru. Hal ini dikonfirmasi oleh lembaga kesehatan Inggris, National Health Service (NHS), bahwa vape 95% lebih aman dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar (Public Health England, 2015).

Namun, bukan berarti lantas pemerintah berarti bisa lepas tangan begitu saja dan tidak membuat kerangka kebijakan apapun untuk meregulasi produk-produk rokok elektronik. Pilihan opsi antara prohibisi dan pasar vape yang secara total tidak diregulasi bukanlah hanya opsi yang dapat kita pilih. Masih ada opsi ketiga yang bisa kita ambil, yakni kebijakan regulasi yang tepat.Direktur organisasi internasional pegiat hak pengguna vape, World Vaper’s Alliance (WVA), Michael Landl, dalam wawancara yang saya lakukan bulan lalu, memaparkan mengenai kebijakan regulasi yang tepat terkait dengan produk-produk rokok elektronik. Landl mengatakan bahwa regulasi merupakan hal yang sangat penting untuk memastikan adanya keamanan produk dan standar kualitas produk-produk yang beredar di pasar (Landl, 2021).

Selain itu, sangat penting juga bagi pemerintah untuk membuat kebijakan yang mendorong perokok untuk berpindah ke produk alternatif yang lebih aman. Yang menyedihkan, ungkap Landl, bahwa hanya ada sedikit pemerintah yang mengambil langkah tersebut. Kebanyakan pemerintah mengambil langkah paternalistik melalui pelarangan yang didukung oleh berbagai kelompok kepentingan. Landl mengingatkan bahwa kebijakan prohibisi merupakan sesuatu yang niscaya akan gagal dan tidak akan dapat mencapai tujuannya (Landl, 2021).

Absennya pemerintah untuk meregulasi produk-produk tertentu, seperti vape, tentu tidak akan menghasilkan dampak yang positif. Tidak adanya standar kualitas dan standar keamanan bagi produk-produk vape merupakan kebijakan yang sangat berbahaya bagi konsumer.Bila pemerintah tidak membuat standar kualitas dan keamanan bagi produk-produk vape, maka bukan tidak mustahil, berbagai produk-produk yang sangat berbahaya akan beredar di pasar. Hal ini bukan hanya aka menyebabkan masalah kesehatan bagi konsumen, namun juga berpotensi besar menyebabkan hilangnya nyawa.

Pada tahun 2019 lalu misalnya, aparat keamanan di negara bagian Wisconsin, Amerika Serikat, menangkap dua orang kakak beradik yang menjalankan bisnis vape illegal yang mengandung bahan THC yang sangat berbahaya. Produk-produk yang dijual oleh mereka tersebut telah menyebabkan banyak orang dilarikan ke rumah sakit hingga mengalami kematian (abcnews.go.com, 13/9/2019).Untuk itu, regulasi pemerintah sangat penting untuk mencegah agar produk-produk tersebut tidak beredar di pasar dan dibeli oleh konsumen. Namun, kebijakan prohibisi total juga akan sama berbahayanya karena berarti para konsumen akan tidak bisa mendapatkan akses untuk membeli produk-produk vape yang legal. Dengan demikian, para perokok akan semakin sulit mencari produk alternatif untuk membantunya menghentikan kebiasaan merokoknya, dan bukan tidak mungkin juga akan ada konsumen beralih ke produk-produk ilegal yang sangat berbahaya.

Sebagai penutup, prohibisi total dan kebijakan lepas tangan untuk meregulasi produk-produk tertentu, seperti rokok elektronik, bukanlah hanya kedua opsi yang dimiliki oleh para pembuat kebijakan. Keduanya merupakan opsi yang sangat berbahaya yang akan membahayakan kesehatan konsumen.Regulasi yang tepat, yang memastikan produk-produk berbahaya tidak beredar ke pasar, dan membuat kebijakan yang mendorong perokok untuk berpindah ke produk alternatif yang lebih aman, merupakan pendekatan yang paling tepat. Dengan demikian, para perokok akan mendapatkan akses ke produk alternatif yang dapat membantu mereka menghentikan kebiasaan merokoknya, dan hak konsumen untuk mendapatkan produk yang aman di pasar juga dapat terjaga.

Originally published here.

Switching From Smoking To Vaping Could Save Thousands Of Lives, Report Finds

Report claims over half a million Malaysians smokers would switch if vaping is promoted as a harm reduced alternative.

An international consumer group has called for a “rethink” of approaches to vaping, saying regulations that facilitate it as a means to help people quit smoking could save thousands of lives.

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) made this call in a report it published with the World Vaping Alliance (WVA) titled “From Smoking to Vaping – Lives Saved”.

The report analysed data on smoking and vaping from 61 countries and assessed how many smokers could potentially switch to vaping if the regulations encouraged vaping as a means to quit smoking.

The researchers looked to the United Kingdom to establish a “switching rate” because of the rate at which smoking decreased while vaping increased in the UK.

In the UK, people are “actively” encouraged to switch to vaping, and the country has seen a 25% reduction in smokers since 2013 when vaping became a key asset for the UK health agencies to urge smokers to quit smoking.

In the same period, Australia, which has one of the toughest vaping regulations saw a decline in smoking of only 8%.

The report estimates that if the right regulations were in place, around 196 million smokers in the 61 countries could switch to vaping, an alternative the two organisations say is 95% less harmful than cigarettes.

In the case of Malaysia, the report cited that the country could see well over half a million smokers in this country would make the switch if vaping is promoted as a harm reduced alternative for smokers.

A growing number of studies are pointing to the effectiveness of tobacco harm reduction (THR) measures including safer alternatives to cigarettes, to help smokers kick the habit.

A recent review of studies by Public Health England, an executive agency of the UK’s Health and Social Care Department found “stronger evidence” that nicotine vaping products are effective for smoking cessation and reduction.

This was in comparison to its 2018 review of studies which found that “tens of thousands” stopped smoking as a result of vaping in 2017 alone.

In “From Smoking To Vaping – Lives Saved”, the report notes that vaping has been recognised as one of the most effective tools to help smokers quit and this has been endorsed by health authorities in several countries including the UK, France, Canada, and New Zealand.

CCC Managing Director Fred Roeder said about the report, “Smart rules on advertising e-cigarettes to smokers, displaying e-cigarettes at the point of sale for cigarettes, lower rates of taxation for e-cigarettes, and public health bodies endorsing the evidence of vaping being at least 95% less harmful than traditional smoking, everything that the UK has done right, can help save the lives of thousands of smokers by helping them switch to vaping.”

WVA Director Michael Landl meanwhile said the report highlights the significant potential of the benefits of switching from smoking to vaping.

While the benefits of vaping as an alternative to smoking have been known for some time, the research shows just how significant the potential is: almost 200 million lives saved. If COVID has shown us anything, it’s that our health is paramount and regulators that want people to quit smoking need to be led by science and ensure that ideology takes a back seat to pragmatism.

World Vapers Association (WVA) Director, Michael Land

Originally published here.

‘Misguided’ push to outlaw vaping in developing nations

In nations where vaping is endorsed by health authorities, such as the United Kingdom, there have been real reductions in smoking. Elsewhere, billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s well-intentioned charitable giving has made the mistake of equating cigarettes with vaping – to the massive detriment of global health – writes Yaël Ossowsk in The Brussels Times.

Since the fallout from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a renewed focus on improving global health, and that’s been a welcome sign.

A study produced by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that nearly three-quarters of hospitalised COVID patients were either obese or overweight, writes Ossowsk in the opinion article published on 18 March 2021.

At the same time across the European Union, health ministries have put more resources into keeping their populations healthy, using education and incentive programmes to encourage children and youth to exercise, eat healthy foods, and more.

Several of these initiatives have been funded and promoted by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the chief charity vehicle of American billionaire media executive Michael Bloomberg. His charity focuses on causes Bloomberg passionately has championed for years: climate change, public health, education, and the arts.

In October of 2020, Bloomberg’s charity partnered with the Brussels-Capital Region Government for an initiative on air pollution and sustainability, boosting his role as the World Health Organization’s “Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries”.

And while most of Bloomberg’s efforts to improve public health are well-intended, there are cases when the groups he funds are pursuing policies that would be detrimental to the health outcomes of ordinary people, especially when it comes to tobacco control.

Though there is a commitment to reduce tobacco use in middle and low-income countries, a significant part of Bloomberg’s philanthropic fortune has ended up going to global efforts to clamp down on novel vaping products, which do not contain tobacco, and have been proven to be instrumental in getting smokers to quit.

Across the globe, as the use of vaping devices has become more widespread, the number of daily smokers has continued to decrease, hitting low teen digits in many developed economies. This is an amazing achievement. Regardless of that, many of these charities are still dedicated to their destruction.

The conflation between vapers who use non-tobacco-containing vaping devices, mostly fabricated by small companies out of Asia and Europe, and the tobacco industry, however, has shifted the focus of these billion-dollar health efforts.

In direct competition with the all-powerful tobacco industry, independent companies have created alternative devices that are cheap, less harmful, and provide the real potential to quit. The vast majority of vapers use open-tank devices and liquids that do not contain tobacco, a point that is often glossed over in the debate.

Despite the rise of a technological and less harmful method of delivering nicotine through vaporisers, the well-funded tobacco control complex has retooled its efforts to ban vaping outright, using a series of drafted bills, gifts to health departments, and questionable foreign funding of domestic political campaigns.

This has been aided by Michael Bloomberg’s $1 billion global initiative on tobacco control.

In the Philippines, a federal investigation revealed that health regulators received hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Bloomberg-affiliated charity before they presented a draft bill to outlaw vaping devices. Congressional representatives have complained that the law was presented with no debate, and came only after the large grant was received by the country’s Food & Drug Administration.

In Mexico, just this past week, it was revealed that a staff lawyer for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, one of the largest global tobacco control groups funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, drafted the law to severely restrict imports and sales of vaping devices.

It is alleged that Carmen Medel, president of the health committee of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, contracted the charity to “advise” on the law, but ended up submitting a draft bill that still contained the name of the NGO lawyer who wrote the law.

This is compounded by ongoing investigations into foreign NGO influence on similar policies in India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi severed ties with the Bloomberg charity after his domestic intelligence services raised concerns.

What makes all of these efforts a tragedy is that a real victory for public health is being stifled in countries that cannot afford it.

In nations where vaping is endorsed and recommended by health authorities, such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand, real reductions in the number of smokers can be seen.

Unfortunately, though Michael Bloomberg’s charitable giving has been significant and well-intended, the groups that receive that money for tobacco control have made the deadly mistake of equating the cigarette to the real alternative of the vaping device.

And that will be to the detriment of global health on a massive scale.

Originally published here.

Назад в прошлое. Как антитабачные меры вынуждают курильщиков возвращаться к сигаретам

Мировая система здравоохранения продолжает вкладывать силы и средства в борьбу с курением. В Украине антитабачные организации тоже не дремлют, зарегистрировав целый ряд законопроектов, призванных бороться с пагубной привычкой миллионов украинцев. РБК-Украина разбиралось, что собой представляют антитабачные инициативы и почему, по мнению экспертов, они могут привести не к снижению уровня потребления сигарет, а к его повышению.

Что хотят запретить

За последние несколько месяцев в парламенте был зарегистрирован целый ряд законопроектов, призванных способствовать борьбе с курением.

Основные из них – повышение акцизов на электронные сигареты и ТИЭНы (табакосодержащие изделия для электрического нагревания), а также внедрение новых ограничений на эти изделия (№4212).

При этом параллельно законодатели рассматривают в профильном комитете комплексный законопроект “Об охране населения от вредного влияния табака” (№4358) и отдельно взятый законопроект об изменениях в закон “О рекламе”, содержащий похожие нормы.

Одним из самых спорных является законопроект №4358. Как рассказывают авторы документа, его целью является – уменьшение распространенности курения среди детей и молодежи.

“Мы знаем, что 90% всех курильщиков начинают курить в возрасте до 18 лет. Именно поэтому этот проект предполагает увеличение медицинских предупреждений, чтобы были большие реалистичные изображения болезней”, – заявила директор общественной организации “Життя” Лидия Олифер, активно выступающая за принятие законопроекта.

Однако, проект закона уже в третий раз дорабатывается профильным комитетом и за год пока так и не был вынесен на рассмотрение парламента.

Борьба с курением или создание новой проблемы

Депутаты, продвигающие эти идеи, зачастую действуют под влиянием антитабачных организаций. С одной стороны, никто не станет отрицать, что борьба с курением важна. Однако даже на международной арене заговорили о том, что фокус на антитабачных инициативах даже ВОЗ мешает бороться с пандемией.

“ВОЗ сбилась с дороги. Вместо того, чтобы организовывать работу по улучшению оборудования для больниц, подготовки врачей и всей системы здравоохранения к возможным новым эпидемиям, “глубокие карманы” Блумберга (Майкл Блумберг финансирует множество неправительственных организаций, направленных, в том числе, на борьбу с курением,  ред.) превратили ВОЗ в глобального полицейского для развивающихся стран”, – заявил заместитель директора Consumer Choice Center (глобальной группы защиты прав потребителей) Йель Островский.

Но главная проблема “антитабачных” инициатив даже не в том, что они отвлекают народных депутатов от более актуальных вопросов. Главная проблема в том, что под эгидой борьбы с курением зачастую продвигается как раз стимулирование бывших курильщиков возвращаться к обычным сигаретам, считают эксперты.

Так, все новые антитабачные инициативы направлены на полное уравнивание регулирования инновационных никотиносодержащих продуктов – электронных сигарет и табака для нагревания – с сигаретами.

Основными потребителями этих продуктов, по данным исследований группы “Рейтинг“, являются бывшие курильщики обычных сигарет. Их переход на менее вредные альтернативы – большой прогресс с точки зрения общественного здоровья, полагает американская FDA.

Дело в том, что у 80% людей склонность к курению определена генетически, говорит Марина Долженко, заслуженный врач Украины, кардиолог высшей категории.

“Да, врачи советуют своим пациентам бросить курить: есть психологическая поддержка, никотинозаместительная терапия. Но, к сожалению, очень часто эти методы неэффективны. И тогда возникает вопрос в доступности альтернативных способов, продуктов с модифицированным риском”, – добавляет эксперт.

Новые ограничения во многом лишат курильщиков стимула переходить на эти менее вредные альтернативы. Ведь после повышения акциза на ТИЭН пачка стиков будет стоить в полтора раза дороже, чем пачка сигарет – что лишает курильщиков финансовой мотивации. А в случае, если парламент примет запрет на продвижение этих товаров, курильщики даже не узнают, что такая альтернатива существует.

Опыт других стран

В передовых странах законодатели идут обратным путем: создают для курильщиков, отказывающихся бросать вредную привычку, стимулы хотя бы перейти на менее вредную альтернативу. Речь идет как о налогообложении, так и о регулировании: и то и другое должно быть пропорционально причиняемому вреду.

“С точки зрения и экономистов, и экспертов в области общественного здравоохранения имеет смысл облагать товары налогом в соответствии с уровнем вреда, который они наносят: налог на классические табачные изделия (сигареты, сигариллы и т.д.) должен быть гораздо более высоким, чем на менее вредные ТИЭН и электронные сигареты. Это будет стимулировать тех курильщиков, которые не могут или не хотят отказаться от никотина, переходить на менее вредные продукты”, – отмечает экс-глава налоговой и таможенной службы Великобритании и консультант Всемирной таможенной организации Лиз Аллен.

В целом же эксперты убеждены, что такой подход приводит к значительному сокращению количества курильщиков. Из-за систем нагревания табака продажи сигарет в Японии упали в 5 раз, а немецкие парламентарии предложили на европейском уровне внедрить разумное регулирование новых табачных товаров – набирающих популярность электронных сигарет и систем нагревания табака. Чтобы, с одной стороны, эти товары не вовлекали в потребление табака подростков, но, с другой стороны, помогали снизить уровень потребления наиболее опасных для здоровья табачных изделий – обычных сигарет.

В Великобритании стимулирование перехода от сигарет к электронным альтернативам является частью политики в области здравоохранения. Из 9 млн курильщиков – треть перешла на бездымные продукты, впоследствии половина вообще бросила курить. Так, в стране количество курильщиков за 5 лет сократилось до исторического минимума – 14,7%. Параллельно снизились заболеваемость и расходы государства на лечение.

Чем обернется для Украины

Эксперты неправительственной организации Taxpayers Protection Alliance раскритиковали ошибочную политику Украины, которая заключается в том, чтобы приравнять наиболее опасные традиционные сигареты, где используется процесс горения, и потенциально менее опасные табачные изделия для электрического нагрева.

По мнению политического аналитика организации Линдси Страуд, политика Украины противоречит недавним рекомендациям государственного Управления по безопасности пищевых и фармацевтических товаров США (US Food and Drug Administration).

“Украина сделала прямо противоположное. И это при том, что уже есть подтверждение, что ТИЭНы уже имели значительное влияние (даже больше, чем акцизы) на снижение курения в Украине. Анализ роста акциза на сигареты в 2018-19 гг. показал, что продажа сигарет уменьшилась на 33%, но государственные доходы от табачного акциза благодаря ТИЭНам выросли в Украине на 10%”, – говорит Линдси Страуд.

В сложившейся ситуации эксперты прогнозируют рост незаконного рынка контрабандной продукции в Украину. Более того, контрабандные ТИЭНы уже распространены в Украине.

“Небольшой магазин в Белой Церкви, в 90 км от Киева, предлагает на продажу ПВТ с английскими предупреждениями о влиянии на здоровье. А китайские ТИЭНы с надписью “Только для продажи в режиме беспошлинной торговли” активно продаются на востоке Украины – от киосков в Запорожье до пивных магазинов в Никополе”, – сообщают в организации.

Таким образом, украинские законодатели под эгидой ограничения доступа курильщиков к информации о менее вредных альтернативах, сознательно или нет, создают благоприятную среду для возвращения к более дешевым, но гораздо более опасным сигаретам.

“Если украинские государственные учреждения здравоохранения заинтересованы в будущем без курения, они должны учесть потенциал товаров для снижения вреда табака. Верховная рада должна прислушиваться к науке и здравому смыслу”, – резюмируют аналитики Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

Originally published here.

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