One of the worries (and it is a MIGHTY worry) of Public Health England is that surveys have shown that almost 50% of people have been led to believe that ecigs are as dangerous as tobacco cigs. Disregarding the idea that that may be true if tobacco cigs are pretty harmless, we can imagine the look of horror on the faces of public health grandees. The EU blunderings in the field of ecigs did not much matter as long as most people believed that ecigs were ‘a cure’ for smoking. Clearly, such a ‘cure’ would need to be controlled so that it was used responsibly. We don’t want ‘cures’ being regarded as snake oil remedies as a result of impurities, do we? But what happens if this particular cure is already becoming seen as a snake oil remedy? Eh? Especially if it is already well known that the current recommended remedies are snake oil (patches, gum). Thousands and thousands of vapers have extolled the virtues of ecigs. They have described how they tried the patches and gums and found them useless, but, once they tried an ecig and found it really nice (most important point), they were able to stop smoking pretty easily. But while Public Health grandees were plotting to take virtual ownership of ecigs, other Zealots were claiming that what vapers were saying was just anecdote, of no scientific value. They produced studies, which they said were of great scientific value, to show that ecigs were dangerous and useless for tobacco cessation. Lo and behold, the Zealots won. Now the Grandees have stepped outside their ivory tower, looked around and gone, “OH MY GOD! WHAT HAS BEEN GOING ON!”
I wonder if the Chief Medical Officer in the UK has been in touch with the Surgeon General in the USA? If the FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) come out with the same garbage as the EU Tobacco Directive, the yanks too will be stitched up.
And this is where we come to ‘The EU Versus the People’, for the statement from PHE throws the cat among the pigeons. Note that there is nothing in the PHE statement about the EU Directive. The PHE must be aware that the directive as it stands will make 99% of current ecigs illegal. In fact, from various readings today, I know that PHE is very much aware of that fact.
The “People” I refer to are the people and government of England. (Note that I do not include the people of Wales, whose government is worse than the EU, nor that of Scotland, which is even worse)
There is a conflict between the people-and-government of England and the EU. How can it be resolved? It seems that it cannot be resolved. England MUST enact the tobacco directive in full. It accepted the directive, and was even a major contributor to the directive. It cannot withdraw now.
So we ask, “Can the EU amend the directive?”, recognising that mistakes occurred. Well, it seems that not. I quote from Clive Bates:
[In the comments]
August 20, 2015 at 5:25 pm
The directive cannot be changed now – it is literally a directive from the European legislature to the UK parliament or devolved administrations to introduce domestic laws that implement the TPD. The main feature of the TPD are not therefore under discussion. Directives don’t alway use actual legal text, contain, penalties or enforcement etc. So the domestic legislature has several tasks:
1. Transcribing the directive – including dealing with ambiguities in the TPD text.
2. Adding all the stuff to do with compliance, enforcement, penalties.
3. Making choices where these are left to the member states – eg. if there are options to go beyond the directive, or choices of which institution does what (eg. deciding the competent authority).
The annoying thing about the DH [Dept of Health] consultation on TPD is that hardly any of the substance is up for discussion, as these things were settled in the directive, for which there has never been any consultation. It’s insulting frankly.
So you see. The situation is set in concrete. For centuries, the UK has had a solid principle set in concrete which is that ‘no government can bind its successor’. Thus, if a law is found to be faulty, a succeeding government can repeal that law. That is what happened with the Poll Tax.
That solid principle has been blown away. When these junior health minister girls, Milton, Subry and Allison, jet off full of enthusiasm to a – wait for it – international ministerial meeting, their ignorance surfaces, their principles evaporate and their brains turn to jelly. They agree to ANYTHING, so long as everyone at the table agrees. It is like having a committee of primary school teachers deciding the EU common agricultural policy. The situation is beyond comedy.
What can be done?
Again from Clive Bates:
August 21, 2015 at 7:34 am · Reply
Clive in a general sense does the EU not have a way of withdrawing or majorly amending directives that are clearly a mistake?
August 21, 2015 at 7:48 am
Yes it does – but it is the same process as used for agreeing a directive in the first place (the Ordinary Legislative Procedure). The things that can be amended more easily are delegated acts within the directive – these relate to the reporting requirements and refill mechanism. Neither is finalised yet.
Clive does not clearly say what the process is for correcting mistakes, but I guess that ‘the Ordinary Legislative Procedure’ means that amendments to directives would require that the whole procedure would have to be repeated right from the beginning.
And why not? It took years of wasting taxpayers’ money to arrive at the directive, and it is almost certainly true that the directive will have no health affect whatsoever, so why not throw the whole thing back to be beginning? In fact, why not kick the whole thing into the long grass and concentrate on stuff that matters, like thousands of waifs and strays, along with crazy islamist zealots, flooding across the Med? In fact, one might ask who the hell turned part of the EU into a subsidiary of the UN WHO? How did the healthy, wealthy West ever become diseased to an extent greater than the poorest places in Africa? What does it matter if smokers die between 70 and 80 as compared with non-smokers who die between 80 and 90? As an aside, I would ask why the WHO headquarters are based in comfortable, wealthy Switzerland. Why is it not based where it is most needed, like Somalia or Nigeria. What is it doing in Switzerland?
Clive Bates reproduced a graph from the Doctors Study:
I have seen that many times. Bates uses that graph to illustrate that ‘lives lost through smoking’ is not as clear cut as that phrase suggests. What the graph illustrates is the average change in life expectancy, and not ’cause of death’. That is, smokers may die for all sorts of reasons and so might non-smokers. All sorts of factors come into the reasons for deaths. The graph does not show that smoking killed the doctors ten years before they should have died. It merely shows smoking might have been a factor in the deaths of smokers. THAT IS ALL. Bates says:
Does 95% still mean thousands die? The UK premature death toll from smoking is about 100,000 per year (see CTSU for other countries). This claim isn’t really designed for the arithmetic of body counts. The residual 5% is really just a safety factor that allows for unknown effects and reflects the caution of bureaucrats and a concern not to imply they think e-cigarettes are safe. But what if it is taken literally? One other way to address this is to ask what does the 100,000 UK smoking-related deaths mean anyway? In reality, smoking causes a shift in the life-expectancy curve…
You see? Even Bates acknowledges that smoking is only one of many possible factors which could be additional. For example, suppose that everyone lived in smoky houses due to coal or wood fires, and suppose that, say, 50% of such people smoked. It would not be surprising that the smokers were more inclined to suffer from the effects of inhaling smoke over a long period of time as compared with those who only inhaled smoke from the fires. But even then (as the graph shows) only those susceptible individuals would be seriously affected (in the graph, 19% on non-smokers were not immortal at the age of 70).
It could be argued that the directive does not matter as far as PHE is concerned since it affects only peripherals, like nicotine content and volume of liquid containers. But these things DO matter, and they matter an awful lot. For example, again as revealed in a Bates discussion some time ago, the decision that the nicotine in ecig liquids should be no more that 20 milligrams per centilitre (or something like that) was not determined by any scientific health evaluation. It was decided like this:
- A few people like 40 mg/cl.
- A few people like 6mg/cl.
- Most people are happy with around 20 mg/cl.
- 20 mg/cl will be the upper limit because it is the average.
Erm… But 20 mg/cl will not be the lower limit! Why not? If the average is to decide the upper limit, it ought also to decide the lower limit. Why? Because, as a ‘smoking cessation aid’, the ecig would be useless without a substantial quantity of nicotine, and so it must be mandated that the ecig must be effective as a smoking cessation aid. Therefore, it must contain a substantial amount of nicotine, being, on average, 20 mg/cl.
What PHE has done is throw a very big spanner into the machine. It would be very surprising if this were not deliberate. I suppose that it is just about possible that this action is really, truly, altruistic. That someone in PHE has directed that individuals who elect to enjoy ecigs MUST not be inhibited from doing so.
It follows that, somehow or other, the EU Directive must be blocked. We shall see how subservient or how brave our Government will be in the next several months. I feel sure that our politicians will do the right thing – they will ensure that they themselves are protected from ignominy.