It’s hailed as the alternative to vaping, patches and gums, but is the team behind cigarette lookalike ‘inhaler’ VOKE exploiting EVALI deaths in order to promote the product?
The New Nicotine Alliance says this is indeed the case, and in an exclusive blog post say they believe the claims are “especially scurrilous” and… packed with “fraudulent information“.
Wow…talk about taking the gloves off!
More from that hard hitting piece in a moment…
BTW, I have reached out to the company behind the Voke device – Kind Consumer Ltd – for a comment [or two lol] on the NNA article and should they reply I’ll of course update this piece.
Update: Voke has responded – see the article: VOKE Removes Anti-Vape Data After Advocacy Group Complaint
OK, and before I get into why the NNA is so angry, let’s take a look at the VOKE device in more detail.
The Voke Device – Approved For UK Prescriptions
This nicotine delivery system [long winded I know] began life as the eVOKE and was designed made and manufactured by Big Tobacco corporation British American Tobacco.
It first came onto my radar a couple of years ago in the article: No…E-Cigarettes Should Not Be Available On Prescription and Here’s Why – my opinon on that has changed slightly – but that’s a whole other story!
The company successfully got it through the minefield of red tape that is the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency [MHRA] back in 2016.
However, BAT decided NOT to go to market with the device/inhaler at the time, citing ‘production difficulties‘.
Back then a BAT spokesman said:
We were never really interested in prescription products. At that time, the medicinal route was the only route to market, but smokers do not see themselves as patients.
And so the ‘inhaler’ was passed on to a break away company – Kind Consumer Ltd back in 2017. I guess they used the existing documents with a bit more thrown in, to get over the expensive hurdles needed to get any kind of prescription medicine passed here in the UK.
This new device hit the UK market and GPs prescription pads in November 2019 and to all intents and purposes is an inhaler that neither heats nor burns, but instead the user inhales nicotine from a device shaped like an early cig-a-like.
On its UK launch, CEO Alan Sutherland said:
With over seven million smokers remaining in the UK, it is clear there is still a need for new options that help people in their quitting journey.
Voke is a tremendously exciting innovation that is coming on to the market at a perfect time with the potential to make a difference to many lives, first in the UK and then internationally as we roll it out.
All seems innocent enough.
So what’s ruffled the feathers of the New Nicotine Alliance?
A pretty ruthless campaign to get more funding that’s what!
NNA Condemns the VOKE Cynical Cash Grab
According to the NNA, during a slide presentation to a group of possible investors – think Dragon’s Den – VOKE linked all forms of vaping with the tragic deaths and illness from the lung disease known as EVALI…which stands for: e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury – hate that bloody acronym!
As we know for a fact – backed by science – the FDA and indeed CDC – ALL cases of EVALI have been attributed to contaminated THC cartridges and in particular dilutents found in them.
NOTHING whatsoever to do with vaping on nicotine based devices…
However in a bid to get the cash coffers filled, the team behind the VOKE inhaler seem to be using those deaths and serious illnesses as a financial springboard – distasteful at the very least…
More like an early campaign straight out of the Big Tobacco playbook back in the 50’s and 60’s…think Mad Men and Don Draper – never mind the truth – think of the money…
Speaking about the 2019 round of funding, Paul Triniman, CEO of Kind Consumer said:
This funding is another step towards commercialisation of Voke, a product which promises to make a real difference to the health burden of smoking by offering an alternative to smoking for smokers and those around them.
I’m going to have to buy one to review to see if those claims are actually true…watch this space 😉
The NNA has received the actual slide used which they say definitely does show VOKE exploiting EVALI deaths – and looking at it closely, cynical is an understatement – look at the image bottom right:
…growing regulatory concerns…
And for good measure, VOKE adds that vapers are:
…twice as likely to suffer a stroke than smokers who do not vape.
Just wow – when money’s involved it seems you need to forget the science and facts!
It’s almost as if they’re listening to the WHO that is continuing to spread vicious false rumours about vaping – more on that in the Vape News tomorrow.
VOKE Is ‘Shoving Vaping Under the Bus’
The NNA is fuming over the VOKE approach to fund raising and says:
It has come to our attention that Kind Consumer – the company behind medicinally licensed smoking cessation device, Voke – is exploiting deaths attributable to black market THC liquids in the USA to promote its product.
A slide presentation to investors by the company made the claim that Voke is preferable to e-cigarettes because there have been “numerous recent cases of lung disease and death in individuals who use vape products”.
This is completely untrue of legal vaping products and we unreservedly condemn their approach.
And they don’t leave it there either adding:
We realise that business is business and Kind Consumer wish to differentiate their new product from vaping, but repeating information that they know very well is false is not the way to do this. It is especially scurrilous when you consider that they are using the fraudulent information to raise significant levels of funding to the tune of tens of millions of pounds.
There is room in the safer nicotine market for many players, and we would ordinarily welcome Voke adding a new option for smokers wishing to quit. However, they should not be trying to build their success by shoving vaping under a bus.
Kind Consumer should instruct their fund-raisers and marketers to abandon this approach. It is unhelpful and shameful opportunism. If their product has merit, they should not have to sink to employing baseless scare stories which have deterred large swathes of smokers from switching away from lit tobacco.
It is sad to see Kind Consumer endorsing such a shabby business model and we hope that they will ensure that it is not pursued any longer.
Let’s hope they do – but I’m not holding my breath.
So do you think VOKE is ‘Exploiting’ EVALI Deaths in a bid to get more funding?
Is the NNA right to condemn the actions?
Have you a friend or family member tried the VOKE?
Let me know in the comments below 🙂
Read the full story from the NNA: Voke seeks to exploit falsehoods about vaping
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