In other news, following along with our “Think Globally, Act Locally”  theme:

The Foundation for a Smoke Free World.  Website: https://www.smoke-freeworld.org. There have been many announcements across the globe on how PMI is helping to establish the foundation with a $1bn dollar endowment.

Questions have already been received from vapers,  in keeping with the theme of “what is best for individuals”, that there is a valid concern that this is nothing more than a brilliant (manipulative) guise for PMI to promote their Heat Not Burn product as *the* ‘vape technology’ with the help of free testimonials from some of the most respected experts on nicotine harm reduction.   Is this, perhaps, a negative view or is it a pragmatic approach to the foundation and its funding?   Time will tell.

It would be more transparent if there were a coalition/collaboration of all the big tobacco companies (BAT, Imperial, Reynolds, etc) to fund the foundation and the science that it is purported to be used for – simply to remove the spectre of doubt from the vaping community. The vaping community really does not hold much weight in the eyes of PMI, as they have shown repeatedly with their actions here in New Zealand, which leads to the distrust in the first place with comments made to MP’s and other higher ups that ELVS “cause water on the lungs” and that “heat not burn is the best option available for smokers.”   Never mind the way the heat not burn product was introduced covertly and has led to a High Court Case that will be heard in March.   Some of the PMI folk see that as a bonus, free marketing/promotion.   Arrogance?  Ignorance?  Both?  

Frighteningly enough, the WHO FCTC actually sees that disconnect, even if some of the experts and advocates refuse to acknowledge it.   And choose instead to lambast those that question the motivations as shills for TC or “throwing smokers under the bus” by having reservations regarding the foundation.  http://www.who.int/fctc/mediacentre/statement/secretariat-statement-launch-foundation-for-a-smoke-free-world/en/

Heat Not Burn (HnB)  technology may well be the best option for *some* smokers, that is a no brainer.  Any technology that offers reduced risk and harm is a bonus for everyone, everywhere.  However, the very valid concerns that PMI is playing everyone are proven by their claim in December 2016 that they were “planning to remove themselves from the combustibles game’ ((http://www.bbc.com/news/business-38152297) is utter effluent.  Simply because  that mantra exists *only* in countries where their combustible revenues are waning.  The countries where there are not concerns or lost revenue are not being addressed similarly and IQOS is certainly *not* being marketed in those countries (not that any of the folk there would be able to effectively afford or utilise the technology).

HnB certainly is not vaping as we know it and it certainly needs to stand on its own merits instead of riding the coattails of the consumer driven/based ELV market.   Have we not all spent the past few years fighting with governments and councils and Public Health to prove to them that vaping is NOT tobacco?   We fought for a division that needs to remain in place for transparency and clarity.   In the final analysis, HnB is still tobacco, which along with nicotine in and of itself is not a *bad* thing regardless of FCTC dictates.  (We all know already combustion is the issue with health/harm).  

Realistically,  a big conglomerate has to generate profit and please shareholders.  Of course, that is business.  However, it is disingenuous to ignore the lack of transparency and inclusiveness of the campaign by PMI; as well as the lack of interest to actually address and enter discourse with those in the community who have questions and concerns – instead shutting them down as being “shills for Public Health/Tobacco Control”. (Are we adults or are we in the 3rd form?).

Questions have also been raised why other tobacco companies with similar products are not speaking up and joining the foundation.    Surely they would realise that the behaviour of PMI, in the New Zealand market at least,  casts a dark shadow over the technology of HnB that they themselves have invested in with R&D?  Or is it more that they are waiting for decisions out of America regarding their RRP products and then will proceed to overtake the market with their products.   It is hard to tell, but it is something to keep discussing and analysing so that we are not blindsided.

In summary, if the delineation of vaping and HnB tobacco products is lost, then we have lost.  (it is fairly obvious from the document above that WHO already considers them one and the same).   That loss includes, however unpalatable, the very core of our credibility as vapers.  Also there is the very real possibility that in the near future we may lose  our right to choose what is best for our own needs in terms of more restrictive legislation, bans on flavours, limits on equipment/e liquid (as seen in the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive) – especially if the independent vape industry is overtaken by BT.

Author

Nancy comes from a diverse administrative background that includes surgical research administration, teaching (primary and tertiary level), executive administration and community property management. For over 15 years she has been very active in community advocacy with youth, lower income folk needing advocacy and now, vaping advocacy. She brings a wealth of scientific, medical and research administrative/management knowledge with her to her role as CEO/Director at AVCA.