IBVTA statement on Channel 4 Dispatches investigation
On Monday February 24th, Channel 4’s programme Dispatches examined Philip Morris International’s purported commitment to reducing smoking rates in the UK. It laid open the reasoning behind their promotion of reduced risk products in the UK, whilst they continue to promote tobacco cigarettes in parts of the world where they can, and that often means in developing nations which have less robust regulation.
All IBVTA members are entirely free of any ownership or control by the tobacco industry, and have no interest beyond the manufacture and supply of products that help adult smokers to quit.
That independence is important to the IBVTA and our members, and we are proud of it. The IBVTA recognises the need amongst the public health and research community for assurances that the vaping products and businesses they work with in smoking cessation projects or studies are of exceptional quality, and independent of the tobacco industry. To be the provider of the cure as well as the disease has to be recognised as an insurmountable internal conflict, and the Dispatches report adeptly exposed how cynically this can be exploited. We are proud therefore, that so many responsible public health organisations are choosing to work only with IBVTA members because of these assurances.
It has been implied by some that using heated tobacco is similar to vaping in terms of relative harm and that it is essentially another vaping product. It is not. It is a tobacco product, and the IBVTA’s own analysis, and that of others, has shown it is significantly more harmful than vaping. The conflation of heated tobacco products with vaping is clearly of benefit to those that wish to hang onto the shirt tails of a remarkable consumer led public health insurgency, but those who do so should be called out for what they are, and what they are doing.
Independent organisations and some government departments have made a clear distinction between the relative harms of vaping and heated tobacco. The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) have previously stated that, “If people perceive e-cigarettes as safe this perception could transfer to heat-not-burn tobacco products.’’
It was encouraging then, to see the distinction between vaping and heated tobacco products made clear by the Dispatches presenter.
There are still between 6 and 7 million smokers in the UK and smoking results in around 73,000 deaths and 480,000 hospital admissions every year. Those smokers deserve the opportunity to move to products that are as safe and effective as possible in replacing combustible tobacco, and that means vaping products. They do not deserve to have the route to the best products eroded by the conflation of two very separate product categories.