Scotland bans e-cig sales to under-18s
Scotland’s new health act came into force on 1 April, bringing a range of new restrictions – including a ban on sales of vapour products to anyone under the age of 18. This brings Scotland into line with England and Wales, which introduced a ban last year, and it’s not something most vaping advocates are likely to complain about. All the major advocacy groups agree that children shouldn’t be vaping, although there are some concerns about what this means for underage smokers who are looking for a safer alternative that, unlike the nicotine gum twelve-year-olds can still buy, actually works.
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The new law covers sales of “nicotine vaping products”, and uses a convoluted series of definitions to classify nicotine-free liquid as a “nicotine vaping product” along with other non-nicotine items such as hardware, batteries and, if interpreted literally, cotton wool. It also sets penalties for any business which doesn’t run an age verification system. While the basic concept of the ban isn’t objectionable it appears to have been clumsily written by people who don’t really understand the subject. On a related note, the ban was welcomed by Sheila Duffy of ASH Scotland.
Hope for US vapers as FDA nominee sounds cool on flavour ban
President Trump’s nominee for head of the Food and Drug Administration faced his confirmation in front of the US Senate on Wednesday, and his answers to some of the questions may have upset anti-vaping activists.
Scott Gottlieb has previous experience of working for the FDA; he was deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs from 2005 to 2007. Now he’s been chosen to lead the whole agency. This offers hope to vapers, as he may rein in or even replace the FDA’s tobacco commissioner, Mitch Zeller, who is well known for his links to pharma and hard-line opposition to tobacco harm reduction. In particular Gottlieb doesn’t seem keen on a wide-ranging ban on flavours, which is being demanded by Tobacco Free Kids and other activists. When pressed by Democratic senators he refused to commit to a ban, and said that any restrictions should be based on science.
Gottlieb isn’t exactly a stranger to e-cigs – in fact, he has a financial stake in a vape shop franchise. He’s promised to give that up, but Tobacco Free Kids want him to step back from any FDA decisions on e-cigarettes. If Gottlieb can face down this extreme demand, many threatened US vapers will see a slightly brighter future ahead.
Research shows military vapers are happy with e-cigs
A new study looking at vapers who serve in the US Army reserves and National Guard has found that they have a positive opinion of vapour products. Those who vape daily reported that they find the devices at least as satisfying as cigarettes, and were less likely to be using cigalike products.
The researchers found that daily vapers found e-cigs more satisfying than those who vape less often, which isn’t too much of a surprise – people who find vaping less satisfying are likely to do less of it. Interestingly, though, they also found that daily vapers have a more accurate perception of how safe it is; they were almost twice as likely to say they were much less dangerous than cigarettes, and none thought they were as or more dangerous.
In many ways e-cigarettes aren’t an ideal product for soldiers; being in the field means less reliable access to battery charging, and most vapour products – like other consumer electronics – don’t cope well with the abuses of military life. Taking that into account, it’s impressive how popular they are among American soldiers.
Study finds that e-cig regulations reduce quit efficiency
A surprising new discovery should – but probably won’t – give pause to health activists who want tougher regulations on vapour products. In a study of more than 1,700 smokers across the English-speaking world a team led by Cancer Council Victoria – not usually seen as a friend of harm reduction – found that e-cigarettes are a much more effective smoking cessation tool when they aren’t handicapped by excessive rules.
In the USA and UK, where e-cigarettes were lightly regulated during the 2010-14 longitudinal study, 73% of smokers who used e-cigs in a quit attempt were successful. In Canada and Australia, which have much more restrictive laws, this fell dramatically to just 32%. Although this is still far more effective than licensed nicotine replacement therapies it’s nowhere close to what’s been achieved in Britain and America. This is strong evidence that cracking down on vaping means more smokers; the big question now is whether or not tobacco controllers can admit that.