vaping with vic - vic mullin

Why He Thinks HNB Products Should NOT Be Sold In Vape Shops and The Reason He Quit the New Nicotine Alliance

I called the recent interview with Sarah Jakes the chair of the NNA ‘explosive’ and I wasn’t wrong lol and now Victor Mullin aka YouTube reviewer Vaping With Vic has a chance to respond.

If you missed that interview I suggest you read it now: Heat Not Burn Products – The New Nicotine Alliance Steps Into The Debate

No names were mentioned in that interview however it didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out who she may have been referring too 😉

And in the interest of debate and the right to reply Vic was only too willing to put his point across on the whole subject of Heat Not Burn products – especially on the divisive matter of should HNB be sold in vape shops?

OK and as you might expect this is an extremely interesting interview and Vic explains why he felt it necessary to quit as an Associate of the NNA and why he believes:

Advocacy in the UK is now dying, and we all have IQOS and the New Nicotine Alliance to thank for that.

Strong words indeed.

In the interests of fairness I asked Vic pretty much the exact same questions I asked Sarah Jakes with just a couple at the end tailored to his position.

Here we go and yup – this will get bumpy 😉

What is your position on Heat Not Burn Products and why?

HnB has its’s place as a means to give up smoking. As I have said since the IQOS first popped up almost two years ago, the device “toasts” tobacco, it doesn’t burn it.

As ways of quitting you have e-cigs, then HnB, Nic Replacement (patches & gum) and then the last line…medical (Chantix).

The IQOS does have its place as one of the four lines of quitting.

Is iQOS a tobacco product and should it be treated the same as an e-cigarette?

Yes, the IQOS is a tobacco product. The UK government itself classes it in the same tax bracket (albeit at the lower end of the bracket) as cigarettes that you buy from your local shop or tobacconist.

The refills for the IQOS have actual tobacco in them…there’s no getting around it, it’s a tobacco product.

Should they be sold in vape shops online or in bricks and mortar shops?

No, absolutely not, and this is where the line was drawn when it came to the IQOS first appearing back in 2016.

Two years ago, when the device was first being rolled out in the UK, many, many groups and people (including people who would later form the NNA) had a hard stance that the HnB products should not be sold in an actual Vape shop.

The first line of argument which the anti e-cig lobbyists took back then, and in some cases now is that vaping is a “tobacco product”. We know it isn’t, your readers know it isn’t.

The tenuous line which the anti ecig groups took was that the nic was taken from tobacco…but the same can be said for the patches and gum so the argument never really stood up in debates.

IQOS Available to buy in the UK

The problem we are now in, with over 400 vape shops selling the IQOS is that those shops are now selling a tobacco product on the same shelves as Smok, or Aspire, or Kanger or the numerous other manufacturers out there. These same shops are selling the coils, liquids, and tanks and everything else which cannot be tied directly as a “tobacco product”.

Well, now the anti ecig lobbyists and politicians who are against vaping (and there are some out there) are now seeing a tobacco tax bracketed device, the IQOS, on the SAME SHELFS.

A device which is recognised by the UK government as a tobacco product, and a device which actually takes tobacco as its refill.

The main argument of vape shops not selling tobacco devices which we all used to say? That argument is now gone…just gone, and there is no longer a defence against the anti ecig groups and lobbyists for the age-old line of “ecig shops are selling tobacco products!” because guess what? They are now…

What advice would you give to vape shops considering selling them?

The problem with this device is the changing laws about selling tobacco products in the UK. Sarah Jakes interview on EcigClick was bashing me about my line of a license being needed. It’s blatantly obvious that Sarah didn’t do her research when she started getting the boot in.

Scotland has a law in place from 2017 which requires shops to register as a tobacco seller. Wales and Northern Ireland are in the process of (and I think in the case of Wales already has) passed a similar law. England is the last of the countries of the UK not to pass a law…yet. Local authorities however in England have in some cases been taking their own path to do with shops being registered/licensed as selling tobacco products.

Sarah Jakes NNA
Sarah Jakes NNA

Sarah Jakes twisted my words to her own advantage.

If a vape shop is seriously considering selling the IQOS or any other HnB device then they MUST look into the laws governing the sales of these devices…and that is something you never see proponents of HnB being sold in vape shops saying publicly. If you are in Scotland, you must register as a shop selling tobacco products. For NI and Wales, it will come soon and eventually it will become country wide in England.

The next hurdle that a vape shop will have with selling the IQOS is the general buying public. A lot of people now know what the IQOS is, and they will simply refuse to step into a shop which is selling one if there is another vape shop in the same street or area which isn’t…they will simply choose to shop in the place which isn’t selling the IQOS.

What advice would you give to smokers looking to quit and wanting to try them?

By all means, try them! Especially if you have already tried vaping but vaping for whatever reason has not worked out for you. I have never stated that I am against the IQOS as a device, what I am against is these tobacco products being sold in a vape shop.

The IQOS fan groups out there have been putting words into my own mouth (like the Sarah Jakes article) which makes it look like myself and Chris (empire) and others are fully and completely against the IQOS.

The TRUTH (which some of these people don’t know the meaning of) is we are not against the IQOS as a device. It has its place in the arsenal of quitting devices. However, that place is not, and never should be, inside your local vape shop.

Do you think the arrival of HNB products is splitting vaping advocacy apart?

It’s not splitting, its already split. At the time of writing this interview out, the Vaping Post in the UK has an article up about me which again is telling lies and half-truths, written by a person who, quite frankly, is nothing more than a spokesman for HnB devices who passes himself off as an “advocate” but wouldn’t even know what the word really means.

The lines have now been drawn, especially with the Sarah Jakes interview on here where she full out attacked me, and at that time I was an associate member of the NNA and had donated over £3000 worth of vape gear to the NNA for them to raffle off and gain funds from.

NNA_ Support

The chair of the New Nicotine Alliance…attacking one of her own associate members with an article which essentially twisted my own words and put me up against a wall so I was forced to quit?

If that’s not a showcase of the full splintering of the advocacy scene in the UK…then I don’t know what is.

What are your thoughts about high profile vapers/advocates publicly rowing about HNB?

If nothing was said, if the IQOS was allowed to simply steamroll itself into vape shop up and down the country to an extent that over half of the vape shops in the UK started selling them, then this industry would die from a slow creeping rot from within.

The row is not about HnB as a device, the row is, and always has been about HnB being sold within a vape shop, and the repercussions that this may have in the future. The HnB supporters have tried their hardest to make it look like myself and others are attacking the device itself, that we are against the device as a way to quit smoking.

The truth is that we are fine with the device…but we are not fine with vape shops selling them.

Sarah Jakes should have done her own research before sticking her neck out and realised that I was more than willing to fundraise for the NNA over the past year. I knew that the NNA supported IQOS, I knew that the NNA was working to get snus legalised in some form, and I was willing to give thousands of pounds worth of vape gear up to auction so the NNA continued that fight.

The row that is going on has myself and Chris along with other reviewers telling some home truths about HnB being sold in vape shops, because other people was glossing over what the repercussions are to the industry if a TOBACCO PRODUCT takes a hold of vape shops up and down this country.

Why did you decide to leave the NNA and are you really ‘done’ with vape advocacy?

I left because I was pushed, by the chairperson of the NNA, Sarah Jakes. She might not have done it directly, but her interview with EcigClick had me in a position of being an associate member of the NNA while at the same time having the chairperson of the NNA attacking me for not agreeing with her and the NNA’s position, and the NNA’s position of HnB being sold in vape shops wasn’t even clear until she did that interview.

So, I quit.

The fact that she twisted my own words against me in what was basically a sting piece to force me out via the back door has made a lot of waves on Facebook, and a lot of people have now seen what the true face of the NNA is, and it’s the face of an organisation now using its name as a baseball bat to bludgeon people into silence who don’t tow their own line.

It’s an organisation far, far removed from those heady days at old Expo where reps of the NNA was up on stage saying that tobacco products should not and should never be sold in vape shops…it didn’t take long for them to do a full 180 and change the argument, and that’s why I am taking a step back from advocacy.

What is the point in advocacy when the chairperson of the NNA is basically saying that contacting your MP to support a bill is pointless, when less than a year ago the same NNA was supporting bills like this?

What is the point of taking part in advocacy when the one major advocacy group is now running around like a bunch of self-appointed HnB vigilantes banging people on the head if they don’t agree with them, just because you don’t agree with their stance on HnB being sold in vape shops?

vaping with vic

What is the point in taking part in advocacy when, in the less than a year, the public line of tobacco products not being sold in vape shops has done a full 180, and the NNA is trying to brush their old public speaking lines under the carpet?

What is the point in taking part in advocacy when the NNA is now in lock-step with some of the loudest and obnoxious HnB advocates in the blog scene who resort to personal attacks on Facebook and twitter to get their point across while the NNA ALLOW those attacks?

Advocacy in the UK is now dying, and we all have IQOS and the New Nicotine Alliance to thank for that.

Anything you’d like to add about the whole HNB vs Vaping debate?

Heat not burn has its place in the devices and choices for people to give up smoking. However, HnB is a tobacco product. Its classed as a tobacco product because hey, newsflash! It uses actual tobacco.

The repercussions of a full tobacco product being sold in a high street chain or independent vape shop are massive, not just because of the “vape shops are selling tobacco products” line which the anti ecig lobby have tried to use in the past, and can now use with evidence to back it up, but because of the TRPR.

The one solid argument we all had as a vaping community was that vape shops do not sell tobacco products so why should the industry here be lumped in with tobacco? This was the flat-out truth.

The TRPR in the UK is essentially the EU Tobacco Products Directive, just under a new name. The hopes of Electronic Cigarettes being removed from the UK TRPR post Brexit is slowly fading as each vape shop stocks the IQOS, because the old argument of vape shops not selling tobacco products, and the industry being split off from the TRPR is now fading, because a tobacco product is now appearing on the same shelfs that for YEARS, never stocked an actual tobacco product.

Now, in 2018, they are, and the repercussions of this will affect the UK ecig industry for years to come, and the NNA who said they would fight to keep vaping separate from tobacco have now catastrophically let us down.

If smokers want to quit using the IQOS or any other HNB device, go for it!

I have no problem with that at all…but those same devices should never be sold on a vape shops shelf because for a decade tobacco products was always deemed as “separate” from the items sold in ecig shops.

That is now changing, and its leading down a road which will be very difficult to legislate, and even harder to get back out of.

My Final Thoughts

A lot of what Vic says marries with my position on HNB products and in particular the iQOS which let’s face it sparked [or should I say toasted] this debate/split into life.

However I come from a slightly different position to both sides of the argument – though I do agree there’s no place for any of these devices in vape shops.

My point is simple – I am not at all sure HNB are as safe as the Phillip Morris Inc in house scientists and ‘tests’ say they are and I’ll tell you why.

Back in January of this year I wrote a piece called The End For IQOS in the USA? Heat Not Burn Product Falls At First Hurdle.

In that article I referred to an investigation by renowned news agency Reuters in which whistle-blowers from inside Phillip Morris suggested the trials were shall we say ‘not all they seem’ and the company’s figure of 90 or 95% safer than smoking was called into question.

And it wasn’t just PMI insiders either saying that – after looking at the leaked documents from the ‘trials’ a former FDA commissioner – David Kessler – said:

Taken as a whole, it’s clear they do not have the sophistication to carry out adequate and well-controlled clinical trials.

And do remember the quote I keep using from Professor David Harrison, Chair of the UK Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COC).

On the subject of HNB products he told UK MPs recently:

It is exactly the same chemicals that you would find in cigarette smoke—combustion.

Some of those chemicals do not require combustion to be available, such as nitrosamines.

The combustion is about the quantity of chemical released, and they shift the balance, but the chemicals are essentially the same as other chemicals you would expect from cigarette smoking, which have the potential to cause mutations and, ultimately, cancer.

So – and as I keep saying – until more independent trials and studies are made on the safety aspects of toasted tobacco it’s far far to early to welcome them with open arms as a Harm Reduction Tool – let alone sell then alongside vaping products which we know are at least 95% safer.

Incidentally I did see the article Vic refers to and will be contacting the writer later this week for his response – so watch this space 😉

So once again let’s keep the debate going in comments below – do you agree with Vic?

Neil H
I began vaping over 6 years ago and found it easy to give up a 40 per day roll-up habit! DTL: Lost Vape DNA75C BF - Dead Rabbit SQ - MTL: JacVapour Sandstorm DNA 75 + Vandy Vape Berserker...Beater set-up Yosta Livepor 160w + Geekvape Zeus RTA - I'm a former journalist and now a sort of writer and author...I now have a beard - though not a hipster one - mine looks like a dead badgers bum or as I call it 'distinguished'... I'm an Army veteran - adore dogs and never happier than with a good book on a beach.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I am totally in agreement with Vic and Chris about keeping HNB and IQOS out of vape shops and online retailers of vape gear. I also Agree with the author of this article that PMI have tampered with the results of supposedly independent test “proving” 90 – 95%safety. Public Health England have called the tests into question as well as some of the carcinogens are actually higher output in HNB as theyare not reduced by burning, I think HNB and IQOS need a lot more independent testing as they use essentially the same products as cigarettes including additives.
    At least with Vaping we can get specific listing of ingredients in eliquids and these are all listed as at least food safe, the chemicals added to tobacco are in many cases known to cause cancer and other diseases.
    I am not against HNB to help people quit smoking but I think they need to remove a lot of things from the refills to be even 50% safer than smoking

  2. It’s a total shame that the government’s of the world depend on the tax revenue that tobacco produces, the revenue lots due to vaping is huge, so naturally tobacco companies have ‘revolutionised’ smoking in the form of ‘HnB’, regardless of how you look at it, the users will still be receiving the chemicals in the cigarette.

    When I say revolutionised smoking, I mean it’s a gimik.

    It angers me so that every tobacco company focuses on short term gain and not a long term reward, with cigarettes there is no long term, they take a live fast die young attitude

  3. “Advocacy in the UK is now dying, and we all have IQOS and the New Nicotine Alliance to thank for that.”
    No, we have two YT reviewers who decided to publicly air their “disgust” at an advert in a trade magazine to thank for the current situation.

    Most vape shops I know are independent businesses, and as such exist to make profit. They do that by selling things people want to buy, and if , as independent businesses, some feel that HnB will increase said profits, they will stock it regardless of what the NNA, Mr Mullin or anybody else says/pontificates, so I don’t see the point of anybody being a matyr to something they have no control over.

    But it could work in vaping’s favour.
    A lot of smokers I know have tried vaping and not got on with it first time. HnB might be the small step that takes them away from lit tobacco. And if they visit a vape shop that stocks HnB to get their refills, they might stop, look around, and decide to give vaping a second try, which is something they definitely wouldn’t do in a dedicated HnB store.

  4. I totally agree with Vic he has helped me to stop smoking with the great knowledge he consistently passes on to people to help them make the transition off the killer Tabaco i think he would have been a great asset to NNA there loss sorry to say

  5. Crikey! Where to start?

    “it came to the IQOS first appearing back in 2016. Two years ago, when the device was first being rolled out in the UK, many, many groups and people (including people who would later form the NNA)”

    The NNA was formed in spring 2014 and registration as a charity applied for in September of the same year. Vic is entitled to his opinion but he’s not entitled to make up ‘facts’. I’d like to see him prove where NNA has ever said HnB should not be sold in vape shops, because it never has. The NNA only cares that all THR alternatives are available, it doesn’t, and never would, presume to dictate to business owners what they should and shouldn’t sell. It’s simply not its concern.

    “The problem we are now in, with over 400 vape shops selling the IQOS”

    This is also not true, it’s around 150. Another made up ‘fact’.

    “If a vape shop is seriously considering selling the IQOS or any other HnB device then they MUST look into the laws governing the sales of these devices…and that is something you never see proponents of HnB being sold in vape shops saying publicly.”

    Apart from when Sarah said “Make sure you comply with the regulations which apply to novel tobacco products in your locality” in her Ecigclick article.

    “England is the last of the countries of the UK not to pass a law…yet. Local authorities however in England have in some cases been taking their own path to do with shops being registered/licensed as selling tobacco products.”

    Really? Any evidence to back that up? It has been a stated goal of ASH in England for the past year or so to install a register. You can guarantee that if some authorities were already doing it they’d have been screaming these results from the rooftops, yet they remain silent. Could this be another made-up ‘fact’?

    “If you are in Scotland, you must register as a shop selling tobacco products. For NI and Wales, it will come soon and eventually it will become country wide in England.”

    So when Sarah said “There is no such thing as a tobacco sales licence in England, and whilst Scotland does have a tobacco retailers register, neither England or Wales have one yet”, that would be the truth. Thanks for confirming it. I don’t see how that qualifies as not doing research. It’s exactly the current situation. It is not – as Vic stated on his YT channel – that all vape shops must register or pay a fine. If he did his own research he would know that the government rejected the idea of a tobacco retail register in England last year.

    “What is the point in taking part in advocacy when, in the less than a year, the public line of tobacco products not being sold in vape shops has done a full 180, and the NNA is trying to brush their old public speaking lines under the carpet?”

    Provide the evidence, Vic, because you’ve not done so yet. The NNA has never advocated where HnB should, or shouldn’t, be sold, and never will. Here are NNA’s position statements, first published in March 2016. https://nnalliance.org/activities/resources/position-statements

    You’ll notice they say nothing about who should sell anything or where. Because it is no business of the NNA.

    “her interview with EcigClick had me in a position of being an associate member of the NNA while at the same time having the chairperson of the NNA attacking me for not agreeing with her and the NNA’s position”

    Do you not see the irony of being an NNA associate who doesn’t agree with the NNA’s position? The problem was not that, but that you fundamentally don’t understand what the NNA is about.

    “and the NNA’s position of HnB being sold in vape shops wasn’t even clear until she did that interview.”

    It certainly was. It was that they don’t care who sells nicotine products, just that they are available. This has never changed since 2014. The NNA has never dictated what business owners should and shouldn’t sell. There has been no “full 180” for the simple reason that there has never been any policy one way or the other on where products are sold.

    I could go on about why regulations regulate products and not where they are sold; how the TPD set up different categories of product so politicians won’t be remotely bothered about who sells them; how ridiculous it is to slander a fellow advocate of being “in the pocket of Philip Morris” for simply adhering to a long-stated NNA position; and how a private members bill is not an earth-shattering event, but what’s the point? When someone floats an argument so full of holes, it’s best just to let it sink.

  6. In regards to registration to sell tobacco products, Northern ireland was actually the first to have this in place a year before scotland (NI april 2016, scotland april 2017), whales has passed the laws (public health whales bill) but is currently ‘working on the best implentation’. It’s only england that hasn’t put through any registration laws however as the other three parts ok the UK have put there own ones in I don’t think it will take long for england to follow.

  7. The biggest issue with IQOS is that tobacco companies are giving massive incentives and kick backs to vape shops selling/stocking HNB devices, they (big tobacco) are losing money on each product just to gain market share.
    Soon the vape industry will be decimated with regulations that’ll mean only the big chains will be able to comply and sell ecigs/juices alongside tobacco products, driving many down the home brew and social media under counter sales which only increases the sale of shoddy untested kit and juices made in non clean room environments. There is a place for HNB but IQOS already have branded stores in central London locations, btw none stock or ever will stock ecigs or e liquids not produced by big tobacco/pharma, i believe the ecig industry will survive but in a much smaller scale with much less innovation r & d etc.

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