Monday, 20 January 2014

Morning Call, BBC Radio Scotland covers e-cigarette banning, Monday 20 January

It's Monday morning, 9.30 GMT. Gerard Hastings just now saying that e-cigarettes is encouraging people to 'self-medicate on nicotine'. (What is use of nicotine patches if not self-medication on nicotine?) Go here for a discussion for the next hour.

The official contributors to the programme, Sheila Duffy of ASH Scotland and former Health Minister Andy Kerr, attempted to give e-cigarettes a qualified thumbs-up but seemed hung-up on the idea of renormalising smoking, and, bewilderingly, encouraging nicotine addiction. The bright part was the callers. Caller after caller pointed out that banning e-cigarette use was counter-intuitive to efforts to discourage smoking, and many had been able to give up smoking since they started using e-cigarettes. Some of them were conversant with recent research, and able to compare favourably the numbers of children allegedly using e-cigarettes with those experimenting with smoking.

Two callers at the end who opposed e-cigarette use were particularly unconvincing: one of them pointed out that nicotine was a stimulant and nicotine in e-cigarettes keeps smokers addicted, and the other reported that having given up smoking forty years ago she tried e-cigarettes and enjoyed them. Hence they really should be banned as they are clearly a gateway back into smoking!

The confused kind of consensus to emerge out of all this was that e-cigarettes should be regulated rather than banned. Even I agree with regulation to the extent that (for example) there could be limits on nicotine concentrations for the general user. But there was also talk (by Andy Kerr) of regulating the appearance so that there is a less clear resemblance between the e-cigarette and smoking. Age restrictions might also be beneficial – one could have a minimum age of 16 for purchasing e-cigarettes, which would give e-cig users two years' advantage in terms of legal purchase. By the time they reached 18 they might find the cost advantages outweighed the attractions of experimenting with smoking (unless they were already smoking black market cigarettes of course).

Well done everybody who called the programme. Most of you put the case clearly and rejected the proposition of banning e-cigarettes decisively on the basis that they are an effective and safer alternative to smoking.


Belinda said...

E-cigarettes are the second topic. Probably will start by 9.45 or 10.00.

Jonathan Bagley said...

There is a limit on nicotine strength. In the UK, the sale of nicotine solution exceeding 7.5% is prohibited. That is why 7.2% mixing liquid is the strongest available. As with many household chemicals, it should handled with care, kept in its original child resistant bottle and not allowed prolonged contact with the skin.

Belinda said...

Thanks Jonathan. Doesn't that suggest that in fact e-cigarettes are *not* completely unregulated??

I am completely unfamiliar with e-cig equipment and only made the point that there are legitimate ways in which e-cigs can be regulated.

Dick Puddlecote said...

They're not unregulated. Even before the TPD, there are 21 different regulations they have to abide by. Hardly the wild west tobacco control keep comparing with.

Junican said...

Garard Hastings has no qualifications to speak on medical matters. His forte is 'media studies stuff'. That is, propaganda lies.