Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Action Required to Halt Plummeting Public Perception

Despite weighty reports from Public Health England, Royal College of Physicians, from Eire the Health Information and Quality Authority, from the US Truth Initiative and recently from Canada University of Victoria and News articles such as this in the Guardian  it is my contention that the battle for hearts and minds(of the general public) is losing ground quickly.

ASH UK estimated the following in 2016 here with the disturbing analysis of only 15% of the adult population believing that e-cigarettes are a lot less harmful than smoking


Other jurisdictions had similar dismal results Germany recorded 20.7% In the US ''According to the survey, 35 percent of adult smokers perceived e-cigarettes to be equally or more harmful than combustible cigarettes in 2015''. What will these figures be like in 2017? if comments sections in various media outlets are any guideline,there is little cause for optimism.

Without some immediate action from the likes of Public Health England,ASH UK,CRUK, this situation will be irreversible. 

Over the last 3 weeks we have witnessed the most concerted negative media campaign against e-cigarettes that I can recall over the last few years, whether it be reduced male potency(sperm),additional violence and burglaries,maladjusted children, philandering adults associated with e-cigarette use amongst the most bizarre claims.......endless baseless junk, BUT syndicated around the World, and as Brad Rodu recently indicated is only the tip of the iceberg of what is in the pipeline for the coming year. 

Undoubtedly Duncan Selbie, Kevin Fenton and Martin Dockrell at Public Health England are very well aware of all of these 'facts', but when are they going to counter it? 

I could waffle on about Public Health Campaigns,TV + Newspaper advertisments......... but if they wish to preserve their groundbreaking, immensely brave decision from 2015 status (to be supportive of e-cigarettes), vigorous action is required asap. 


Monday, 26 December 2016

New Head of RCGP provokes an angry Twitterstorm

This was the title of a Times Article  that appeared on Christmas Eve


''Put vaping under medical control, says GPs’ leader '' 

Dick Puddlecote immediately covered this in his own inimitable style here 

There's A New Idiot In Town  


I for one expected that would be the last we heard about this from the new head of the RCGP(Royal College of General Practitioners)  and here  .

But no, thanks to interventions from the likes of Lord Hunt (also President of RSPH) and presumably behind the scenes anger from RCGP members. 

A mini retraction was issued by the lady 






If one looks at her original quotations in the Times 


and 


Irrespective of whether one word was a mis-quote, taken out of context,the nature and tone of the quotations are perfectly clear to any reader,and what prompted my blog..Helen has badly misjudged here, and a speedy retraction and clarification is most definitely required. Whether through Chris Smyth the Times journalist, or via her own RCGP blog to confirm the agreed policy,either avenue needs pursuing asap.



The recent RCGP policy position was announced less than one month ago,and was commented upon in a previous blog which noted that every single respected Public Health body was e-cig supportive,with the exception of the BMA and a few noisy renegades.


''To vape or not to vape? The RCGP position on e-cigarettes'' 

The timing of this article in the Christmas- New Year  peak resolution period to Stop Smoking is particularly unfortunate,specialists in this field of study will be dismayed at the apparent naivety displayed.I could fling further mud at Helen, regarding her recent forays into the mass media.However that would be counter- productive,but I strongly suggest that she takes the wise and honourable step of a full retraction to clear this particular sorry mess up.

To conclude this,I leave this short but very cutting comment.

PS***
 My commentary assumed naivety and inexperience from Helen, and thus was of a charitable nature.However,there was a clear similarity in her commentary with that of the Public Health renegade element I mentioned earlier.If Helen has fallen under their influence, I suggest a rapid rethink is called for, as they are becoming increasingly isolated,so back the righteous and winning horse,....'You decide' !  

As another update this confusion at the RCGP resulted in this video from BBC South on the 4th January  the in video commentary was annoying, the accompanying general public comments truly mind-numbing in their ignorance and lack of empathy. 


Thursday, 1 December 2016

'Moments' on Twitter :- An Aid to Info Gathering?

If like me you don't always spot what Twitter and Facebook 'updates' have actually done,please read on.

Once again a twitter conversation piqued my interest with a feature that has been on the twitter dashboard for months Moments wtf are they ? I had occasionally glanced through at the feature and decided(incorrectly) that there was nothing there of use.

Many thanks to Moments (read link)guru Norbert Zillatron  for his subtle guidance to allow me to scratch at the surface of what is actually possible with this feature. Within 24 hours I was producing this as an example of a quick 3 hour collection of anything I could locate on Battery Safety 

 The virtue of  any Moment that you produce, is that it updates itself in real-time when you add or edit it, entries can be moved up/down or removed at any time..

Ho hum I hear some of you saying .

What else is possible to build upon that , Neil Robinson suggested curated research links were possible :- accessible to anyone eg using a # like

#MomentsResearch or whatever, but endless possibilities are possible see here for my effort so far

There exists much knowledge out there on Social Media, google search,google scholar....etc etc Bill Godshall gives a comprehensive weekly update regularly published by Chris Price , there are Daily updates from Nicotine Science and Policy can we have too much information. Most of us bookmark pages and generally store away information on an individual basis on our devices.

What I see here is the germ of an idea that could result in a 'twitter persons library' and I advocate that we all embrace this notion of creating 'Moments'

****
 SEE  #CollectionOfVapingMoments - This is a very powerful feature that has the germs of an idea to create a central library accessible to anyone! At the moment about 10-12 moments exist in that collection #

IMPORTANTLY anyone can add their own Moment here on a topic that may be of General  Vaping Interest. We all have strengths+ weaknesses along with many varied interests, as long as the content is Vape related eg from DIY mixing up to high-powered research anything is fair game for inclusion.

The Library creation feature seems well-worthwhile pursuing, and may be a useful addition for any of the major Vaping Forums, where they could readily take away the useful links that are contained within. Maybe they could encourage their members to add their own Moments to the #CollectionOfVapingMoments? <<< Please examine the current content 

I hope this is a Sir Francis Drake moment of returning home with tobacco or potatoes from the New World rather than a blind-alley of fruitless effort. So some feedback would be more than welcomed

***
This was heavily modified on 16th December and may be updated again in the future

Two years ago a Fb group examined the feasibility of establishing a Library,some good thoughts but not actions were the fruitless result of that. Could the more computer literate readers examine the possibility of transferring all of these Moments elsewhere to a website that would allow a search function (or is that an impossibility?) Or examine other avenues to utilise these Moments??





Saturday, 26 November 2016

Antipathy of BMA towards Vaping

Vaping proponents and advocates of Tobacco Harm Reduction in general have been baffled and confused by the curious inability of the BMA(British Medical Association) to change its policy towards e-cigarettes . As an example of this, simply type search e-cigarettes onto their website a plethora of negativity results.

Following the Royal College of GP latest announcement,to align with the policy positions of most Public Health organisations in the UK, the BMA is now an outlier, along with a few influential rogue malcontents.

It is unconscionable for them to maintain this position, especially as they seem to be the 'go to' organisation for commentary on e-cigs in the media.Their media influence has undoubtedly influenced the attitude of non-smokers, and smokers alike, contributing to the dismal public perception of 15%  believing much safer than smoking.
 Some absolutely shocking media interviews could be cited as examples here eg Banfield (Wales), Rae(N.E.) but I shall spare readers further grief.

Various conspiracy theories exist for this increasingly implausible policy position, maybe some have a part to play in the antipathy of the BMA ,but it is this authors contention that the paucity of education(in Nicotine and THR) whilst training has played a huge part in their flawed policy.

Recent examples of this misperception exist a,b,c,d within Dr's and Health professionals, I maintain it could well be due to flawed,possibly biased but certainly incomplete Education(but we need a large UK study of this phenomenon to confirm this ).

A perfect example of what educators need to foster is demonstrated here , stimulate the intellectual curiosity, and challenge the perceptions!

So Why is this important ?

The BMA  policy has to be voted upon(via members proposals) by a membership who have anything up to 50% misperception of the harms of nicotine and the value of Tobacco Harm Reduction

The(possible) self-perpetuating spiral of ignorance reflected in its policy needs addressing AND SOON! Inaction literally does kill!

Naturally this will not be unique to the UK, all Doctors Medical Associations around the World will probably demonstrate the same antipathy for similar ill-founded reasoning.

Time to #ReThinkNicotine ! and maybe they take some advice

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Waffle about Press Coverage

As we are all too aware, the accuracy and narrative across the various media outlets varies enormously in general terms, but more specifically related to Vaping.

I cannot recall many other divisive or polarised topics in my lifetime,  that emulate this,with the possible exception of climate change(I am an agnostic with insufficient knowledge to voice a considered opinion), maybe Industrial relations(UK) in the 70's-80's qualify here also.

However, my attempts at memory recall, and unintended conflict of viewpoints in my above examples are not the purpose of this entry, more to highlight a few of the events over the last 24 hours,mostly of a minor nature but they need raising nonetheless,

Guardian article discussing poverty came up with


in the middle of an article on poverty and deprivation in South Wales. 'dens of iniquity' and 'opium dens' are what were conjured up in my mind by the authors' use of den. Whether intentional or mistakenly it gave off a subliminal message that there was something seedy about a vape shop. 

A local Newspaper then came up with this irresponsible trash with quotations from poorly informed councillors. 
The resulting comments are a model of what should happen at any level of media  mis-reporting. Challenging garbage is crucial, but once again can we help to gain control of the narrative here - give your local press some stories that they may consider covering especially as they are always short of news. 

Two hugely contrasting stories highlight 'cool' or stylish  

This from GQ was one of the first positive pieces regarding a stylish product, usually most are dismissed as 'douch-bags' 'silly' etc etc ,this dross  typically un-amusing when referring to the topic . To me it matters nought what others may think what my product looks like, BUT it may well matter to a smoker who is considering giving Vaping a whirl. So GQ need a bit of a shout out from us maybe 

So nothing heavyweight or profound here(nothing unusual there!) 

***updated with more recent examples 
from  this Guardian article  

and 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Researchers(and others!) Pet Hobby horses to Advance Smoking Cessation

 One observation that I have discovered over the last 3+ years is the  illogical advancement of one method over another ......I am excluding e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products from this debate (for now)

My early-teen smoking experiences were with Capstan Full Strength, Players Navy Cut or woe betide  me Woodbine, these were all unfiltered cigarettes and all very high nicotine (and tar) products. After trying a few filtered products I found I preferred to use them, not for any notional tar -reduction but the fact that I didn't get a mouthful of fine tobacco if I carelessly puffed away. For 40+ years I happily puffed away in blissful ignorance of the so called science surrounding the filter apart from the very brief experience of  using Silk Cut which I found worse than useless and either covered up the filter or removed it entirely.
I make no apologies for giving you a potted version of the Beard smoking history especially when the latest hobbyhorse from some quarters is the Very Low Nicotine Cigarette advanced by such groups  as Aspire 2025 , Tobacco Free Kids , Truth Initiative (formerly the Legacy Foundatiom) , Centre for Tobacco Control and Research at UCSF   The reasoning behind VLNC is eviscerated by Dr M Siegel here 

Why do certain researchers and institutions come down in favour of one method,when as anyone who has gone through the experience of stopping smoking can give a very detailed account of what worked for them, imagine a smokers version of 'The Wisdom of Crowds'.
Clearly no coercion should be involved in cessation of smoking, smokers have a very strong and well deserved reputation of 'digging their heels in'
From this authors point of view simply give smokers truthful factual advice(if requested by them!) and there should be as wide an assortment of attractive smoking alternatives or the traditional NRT and medications readily available and simply allow freedom of choice.

* note I found this blog from months ago,and realised it was not published.

ps this excellent article highlights the folly of VLNC  via Prof Lynn Kozlowski here 

Rightful Anger and Bewilderment at Lack of Support towards A Billion Lives Screenings

This is a painful post to contemplate writing anything much positive about the recent UK fiasco regarding A Billion Lives screening applications. Two only, out of many applications have been successful :- Glasgow and Swansea, this is a hugely disappointing result so far and needs sorting out quickly

Simon Clark from Forest wrote this damning indictment  which is a very powerful summary, however a few points are inaccurate and in need of correction.

he states 1)...'Vapers have also risen to the challenge in Wales with a screening in Swansea on November 23 almost certain to reach its target thanks to Vapers In Power (Wales) and some local vape stores.' 

The 2 nominated persons associated with the screening and leading driving forces were Simon Thurlow(NNA trustee) and Rhydian Mann(NNA Associate and VIP member). VIP were also heavily involved to make this a success. 

another here 

 2) 'With a few noted exceptions I'm astounded the UK's leading vaping advocates have shown so little interest in organising their own screening or promoting someone else's. (The occasional tweet doesn't count. Getting out of bed takes more effort.)' 

This appears to be a direct 'dig' at the NNA, I will not spend too long on dismissing this ridiculous slur, ALL of the NNA consumer Trustees  + many of the Associates have actively campaigned and participated in organising screenings -  eg see David Dorn,Andy Morrison,Dave Kitson in action at the NEC in front of hundreds of Vapers at a recent event.(sadly no link)

3) ''I've lost count of the number of UK-based bodies that advocate vaping, some of them funded by the e-cigarette industry. Where is their 'Jeff Stier'? Where is their planning committee?'' 

I replied to Simon on his blog regarding this ambiguous statement which is open to many interpretations. To clarify, no consumer organisation receives any funding from the e-cigarette industry 

However, all of the above 3 points are relative nit-picking on my part :- the undeniable fact is that screening numbers have been hugely disappointing. 

Apathy and calls to make the screening available for free on the internet have abounded,but I personally think that local organisers maybe grossly underestimated what was required of them(this is not meant as criticism,just an observation). Following disappointing stories I along with others have assembled a guide to help future screening organisation see  here, but it is clearly obvious that 'we' are novices at organising and marshalling the necessary interest due to inexperience in such matters, we are not PR experts!). Another walkthrough guide is here  (but this doesn't give the nuts n bolts of how to do it successfully)

Enough of this reflection and negativity, hopefully anyone contemplating organising a screening will give the matter some serious thought before blindly blundering in on a tidal wave of enthusiasm and give the matter due diligence 

This documentary is a game changer, WE all have to up our game to give it the necessary attention to make it the success it deserves