UK Government embraces tobacco harm reduction - in all but name
The UK Government issued today its tobacco control plan entitled: “Towards a Smoke Free Future”. It’s a comprehensive review of anti-smoking policy objectives over the next five years and contains significant support for vapor innovation throughout.
As Clive Bates has pointed out, this makes the UK Government the first in the world to adopt an official tobacco harm reduction agenda.
The plan crystallizes the UK’s trajectory from almost prohibiting vapor products in 2010 to being the world’s most forward thinking and liberal on vape today.
It goes further too underscoring that vaping in public places is not prohibited under smoke-free laws. This is an important intervention considering the number of workplaces that have chosen to prohibit vaping in the UK, and the knock-on effect this has on smokers who are trying to switch.
Heat not burn
The report is a little more equivocal on Heat not Burn products, stating that their very recent introduction to the market means that their effectiveness and safety is not yet understood. But it certainly does not rule out the possibility that these products have a role to play. It remains to be seen what evidence base will be used to assess their impact.
The report’s release coincides with the VTA’s “Vape and the FDA” conference being held in Washington D.C today, and further underscores the radical difference in approach between UK and USA. Hopefully, it will serve as a useful counterpoint for discussions with representatives during the “day on the hill” taking place tomorrow.
Of course, this plan doesn’t address the arbitrary restrictions imposed by the TPD, and it makes no reference to the continued prohibition of Snus. In a sense, then, it’s an inevitably flawed document, but these regulatory questions were outside the scope of the plan.
It’s remarkable how far things have come in the UK, and this document sets the foundation for continued world-leading success in ending smoking in the most rational way.