Pinch, Punch, First of the Month!
Nicotine Pouch, Vapours and Snus Users; Now You Can Have Your Voices Heard.
Brexit and Harm Reduction; a UK Government Opportunity
At Nicotine Freak, we believe that oral nicotine products such as nicotine pouches should be sensibly regulated and made available to consumers as safer alternatives to smoking cigarettes. We believe, fundamentally, in harm reduction and improving public health.
Brexit represents a monumental opportunity for the UK government to correct the policy mistakes of the European Union concerning nicotine products, coming in the form of the unelected EU Commission’s Tobacco Products Directive 2014 (TPD). Fortunately, public opinion is important to policymakers in the UK and we as consumers now have the freedom to speak out. Do read on to find out how.
The Vaccination Crisis and EU Public Health Policy Decisions
The ongoing vaccination crisis in the EU is a tragic example of the dangers that unaccountable and irresponsible decision-making processes pose to public health and safety. Also, it exposes yet again the structural inadequacies within Brussels institutions that are negatively affecting other areas of EU policy, far beyond the realm of public health.
The unelected EU Commission’s failure to quickly approve and procure enough COVID-19 vaccines through its compulsory centralised procurement programme was a disaster.
To make matters even worse, the EU Commission, in a mad panic, invoked Article 16 of the UK/EU agreement signed by Boris Johnson and Ms Ursula Von De Leyen, effectively barring exports of vaccines to the UK, barely after a month after putting pen to paper on an agreement preventing a "No Deal Brexit' on Christmas Eve 2020. This has caused immense reputational damage to the EU globally.
Not only did this unilateral action threaten the fragile peace in Ireland by creating a 'hard border' between the Republic of Ireland and the UK, it was also damaging to the public health and the economic prosperity of people living within EU member states. Due to the increasingly globalised world in which we live and the complexities of vaccination procurement and manufacturing, it risked damaging the safety and economic stability of the 168 countries that are not EU members as well.
As a result, we have witnessed a great deal of controversy and anger expressed internationally from across the political spectrum including strong condemnation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) who are rightly set on avoiding a so-called “vaccine war” scenario.
This led to an unapologetic U-turn on this disastrous decision from Ms Ursula Von De Leyen merely days later. Unsurprisingly, she still remains in her post without taking any real responsibility.
Smoke-Free UK 2030
The UK government’s stated aim is to make smoked tobacco “obsolete” by 2030. This can be interpreted as reducing adult smoking prevalence to 5% or below. Nicotine Freak believes this objective would be impossible under current counterproductive European Union legislation. EU policy under the TPD (2) currently creates disincentives and hurdles for consumers to switch away from cigarettes to safer alternatives and it ultimately has the effect of protecting the cigarette industry and by extension, promotes smoking.
Take Part in the UK Government's Public Consultation
Nicotine Freak would therefore like to make our readers aware of the ongoing UK government’s public consultation which is part of the review of the UK’s Tobacco and Related Product Regulation 2016 (TRPR). This is effectively the UK version of the EU's TPD. TRPR is now under review 5 years post-implementation, as is mandated under UK law.
If you have successfully reduced the harm done to your health by switching from cigarette smoking to nicotine pouches, snus or vaping, Nicotine Freak strongly encourages you to make your voices heard by completing the online public consultation.
The initial phase of the regulatory review is conducted through this public consultation and the deadline for submissions is March 19th 2021. The review is remarkably simple to complete and can be done online in about 15 minutes.
The outcome of the UK’s TRPR review is of immense importance for harm reduction and the legality of immeasurably less harmful nicotine products (compared to cigarettes). These alternatives include flavoured and tobacco-free oral ‘nicotine pouches’, tobacco-based oral ‘snus’ (currently banned across the EU except in Sweden) and of course, vaping.
Nicotine pouches are a relatively recent tobacco-free innovation and an alternative to traditional tobacco-based snus. Essentially, they were created to bypass the poorly justified and irresponsible blanket snus ban under the EU's TPD 2014. Being 'tobacco free', nicotine pouches are technically legal across Europe but sit uncomfortably and confusingly in a regulatory grey area.
Policy Recommendations to the UK Government
To reduce the smoking rate in the UK to 5% or lower by 2030, Nicotine Freak wishes to add to and lend its full support to some of the policy recommendations made by the registered charity, New Nicotine Alliance UK (NNA) as below:
1. Lift the ban on oral tobacco (snus) and properly regulate all smokeless tobacco
2. Raise the limit on nicotine concentration in vaping liquids to allow vaping products to compete more effectively with cigarettes
3. Replace bans on advertising of vaping and products on TV, radio, internet and in publications with controls on themes and placement
4. Replace blanket bans on advertising of low-risk tobacco products with controls on themes and placement
5. Replace excessive and inappropriate warnings on vaping products with risk communications that encourage smokers to try switching
6. Replace excessive and inappropriate warnings on non-combustible tobacco products
7. Allow and enable candid communication of relative risk to consumers
8. Adopt a fresh approach to package inserts for both vaping products and cigarettes to encourage switching to lower risk products
9. Remove wasteful restrictions on vaping product tank and e-liquid container size that have no discernible purpose
10. Recognise and regulate novel oral nicotine products (Nicotine Freak: particularly flavoured nicotine pouches)
Question 13 of the UK Government's Public Consultation
A quick note on the public consultation. We would like to highlight Question 13, the final question. The question is an open one and in effect allows you to share your personal experience.
“Is there anything else you would like to share on negative or positive impacts the regulations have had on topics not covered above? If so, please explain and include any evidence or research you may have to back your response.”
If you are a nicotine pouch, snus user or vaper, you may wish to explicitly express your views when answering as to how nicotine pouches/snus/vaping have helped you switch from smoking and the positive impact it has had on your overall health.
Far from viewing the UK as moving in an ‘isolationist’ direction, instead, we see the UK's departure from the European Union as an opportunity for the UK government to set the tone on many issues having freed itself from regulation it cannot effectively influence. It can do this by achieving its 2030 objective and improving the public health not only of UK citizens but also our friends and fellow Europeans living in EU member states, by setting another example on effective public health policy which the EU Commission will not justifiably be able to ignore. This will be done through the implementation of faster, more democratic, and more responsible policymaking.
Nicotine Freak is focused on promoting the switch from cigarettes to nicotine pouches, snus, and other forms of non-combustible and non-inhalant forms of nicotine consumption.
WeVape is an organisation with a similar mission to Nicotine Freak – helping people to reduce the harm they are doing to themselves by switching from smoking to vaping. WeVape, as the name suggests, focuses more on vaping, however. There are approximately 3.6 million vapours in the UK alone.
They have provided a handy guide that may be helpful to refer to when considering your responses to the public consultation. The link to this guide can be found here.
We thank you for taking the time to read, and we hope you will partake in the public consultation to influence sensible policy which will allow the UK government to reach its admirable goal of reducing smoking rates to 5% or below by 2030.
Best wishes from Nicotine Freak!
Do check revisit our website at www.nicotinefreak.com and follow us on Instagram @nicotinefreakuk to view all sorts of content relating to non-smoking alternatives, particularly nicotine pouches, snus and snuff.
Header Photo by Lex Guerra on Unsplash