Not so long ago, most people in UK Public Health were advising smokers to steer clear of e-cigarettes.
The very best we could hope for was:
They might be safer, but we need more research.Fast forward to today and it’s a very different situation. In fact, the UK, with a few notable exceptions, probably has the strongest public health support for e-cigs in the world.
A large part of the credit goes to E-Cigarette Summit, which connects the scientists carrying out research into e-cigarettes with Public Health, policy makers (both local and national), journalists, activists and retailers.Neither of the previous summits have been without controversy (see Titans of the E-Cig Debate Clash and Return of the Titans for a quick recap). This year, though, we should see some real fireworks.
The Tobacco Endgame?Perhaps the most controversial presentation will made by the Royal Society of Public Health.
The society will ask if we should encourage all smokers towards safer nicotine products, making cigarettes as we know them today illegal.
The reason for this?
They feel that now we have e-cigs, there’s no need for tobacco cigarettes.This is likely to make many attendees, including some in public health, uncomfortable. Expect fierce debate over the issue of choice and the effects of prohibition.
E-Cig NHS RowThere’s also likely to be a row over whether e-cigs should be provided on the NHS.
This is particularly controversial as the only products likely to get a medicinal license will be owned and produced by the tobacco industry. Expect several squirming public health seats in the room as they visualise the NHS funding the tobacco industry.
Advocates are also split on whether smokers would then go on to more advanced devices (proven to be a more effective alternative to cigarettes than cigalikes), or would just conclude e-cigarettes didn’t work.So expect a fierce debate between those who wants e-cigs on the NHS (such as Deborah Arnott) and those who don’t (including Professor Hajek).
The Anti-Ecig PerspectivePublic Health's anti-ecig faction will also be represented, and it’s going to be fascinating to see what Charlotta Pisinger says.Charlotta has previously argued:
...no firm conclusions can be drawn on the safety of ECs. However, they can hardly be considered harmless.Her research has been used as the basis for arguments by those most opposed to electronic cigarettes, such as Simon Capewell, Stanton Glatz and Simon Chapman.
Implementation of the EU TPDThere should also be plenty of practical information for retailers, with the Department of Health and the MHRA explaining how they intend to implement the TPD, while Clive Bates will give an update on legal challenges.
Benefits of AttendingThe E-Cigarette Summit remains one of the most important meetings in the e-cigarette calendar. Both the frank exchange of views from both sides of the debate and the latest data from researchers are key to evidence based policy making.
Much of the Summit's success is the mixture of the audience which allows small e-cig retailers and vapers (who are hosted) to sit alongside leading scientists, public health directors, regulatory bodies and tobacco control activists.
This year will see the Public Health response to e-cigarettes challenged like never before. If you are invested in the need for evidence based debate, this is a must-attend event.
For the full program, visit the E-Cigarette Summit website here.