Vape shops open in UK hospitals

Two National Health Service hospitals in the West Midlands now host vape shops, in an ambitious move designed to help patients quit smoking. It’s part of the NHS clampdown on smoking, which has seen smokers faced with increasingly harsh restrictions over the last few years, but in this case Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust has done something constructive instead of just relying on bans and fines.

Since the 5th of July the trust has been imposing a strict smoking ban on its sites, with a £50 fine for violations. CCTV cameras have been set up to monitor facilities for smoking. However, to counter this draconian policy the trust has converted its smoking shelters into vaping areas and collaborated with vendor Ecigwizard to open vape shops in two hospitals, West Bromwich and Birmingham City.

Vaping is only allowed outside and away from doorways, but at least patients can vape – there’s now no way to smoke legally on the trust’s property, and many patients can’t make it out the gate to smoke there. With a safer alternative on sale inside the hospital there’s now a proven harm reduction option available.

Federal judge tightens FDA deadline

There’s no sign of a ceasefire in the US war on vaping, as a federal judge ruled last week that e-cigarette companies must submit Pre Market Tobacco Authorization applications to the FDA by next May or take their products off the market. Since the FDA first came up with its Deeming Regulations there’s been a constant back and forth over the date for PMTA submissions, with anti-vaping activists demanding an earlier date and realists within the agency trying to push it back. Right now the anti-vapers are winning.

Right now the FDA want manufacturers to apply for a PMTA by 2022 at the latest. It doesn’t have to be granted for the product to stay on the market – it just has to have been submitted, and not rejected yet. Now a federal judge has ruled that submissions have to be in by May 2020, with products allowed to stay on sale for up to a year while the application is processed.

Last month a federal district court in Maryland heard a case by anti-vapers who wanted the FDA to impose a 120-day cutoff for applications. The judge in that case ruled that the agency had exceeded its authority by allowing companies to put products on the market before they were approved. The FDA offered a compromise solution, and US Judge Paul Grimm has now ordered them to go with that compromise.

Santa Clara joins vape crackdown

California’s insane war against harm reduction conquered another city last week, as Santa Clara brought in a wide-ranging set of new restrictions on vaping. The South Bay city, a commuter suburb of San Francisco, is allegedly supposed to protect residents from second-hand smoke – but it’s also applied to vapour products, which all the current evidence says pose no risk to bystanders at all. Under the new rules Santa Clarans will be forbidden from vaping almost everywhere except outdoors – with a whole list of exceptions – or in tobacco snops and privately owned single family homes. Vaping will be banned in flats, condominiums, townhouses, open air dining areas, transport stops, public parks, near cash machines and within 30 feet of any door, window or vent.

US states launch vape quitline

Nine US states have launched dedicated telephone lines for teens who want to quit vaping – which, according to most harm reduction experts, isn’t even addictive. The lines opened on Monday in Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah and are being run by National Jewish Health, a Denver-based hospital. Callers will be connected to a specialist youth coach who will probably be seriously underworked.

In a great display of anti-vaping logic, the teen vaping quitline has been set up because nobody was using teen vaping quitlines. National Jewish Health have been running a hotline for teens who want to use nicotine products since 2002. It hasn’t been very busy. Now they think the solution is to open nine new ones. Unfortunately, this sort of dead horse flogging is very common among opponents of harm reduction. If something doesn’t work, just keep doing it because surely it will eventually.

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Veteran, vaper and writer. All articles express my own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the Editor's view.