Martin Cullip NNA chair, chats with us about the future of vaping here in the UK and why in 2020 it’s vital vapers get behind this nicotine advocacy charity.
Whilst trade organizations are funded via the industry, the New Nicotine Alliance is not – however, that certainly hasn’t held it back.
The NNA was founded back in February 2015, however the decision to go down the registered charity route was made in 2014 by founder members that included, former chair’s, Sarah Jakes and Professor Gerry Stimson.
Sarah stepped down recently and her role has been taken on by Martin Cullip.
I’ve met Martin and have been extremely impressed by his passion and commitment to not just vape advocacy – but reduced harm nicotine products in general.
No Time For Complacency In Vape Advocacy
2020 is a massive year for vaping and indeed all nicotine products in general, with the USA bringing in the Pre Market Tobacco Agreements which could and probably will decimate the industry over there.
Whilst closer to home, the European Union is and will be reviewing the current TPD legislation, which Martin has pointed out will lead to TPD3.
Here in the UK it’s still unclear [at least as I’m writing this lol] just what the UK will look like post any Brexit deal.
The UK Government has put in place temporary legislation – but that’s exactly what they are – temporary.
Mere placeholders if you like for when or if we do make the break.
Over in the wider EU, there is a real threat to vaping as we know it – despite the relatively relaxed vaping legislation.
Martin tells me in this interview vapers should NOT become complacent as the EU elected and un-elected officials are gunning for all things vape.
So if you’re sucking on that new tank – mod or e-liquid you got as a Christmas present – you need to read this interview and get involved.
I hate to be the Grinch that stole your vaping Christmas – but as Martin has stated, 2020 will need vapers to get involved – become active and once again fight the TPD.
Over to Martin…
First up a little about yourself – how old are you – current job – are you married – single – looking?
I am 52 and have run a transport business since 1995 which now employs around 160 people.
Our staff are salt of the earth working class people, a higher than average proportion of which used to smoke but now vape.
It’s been very interesting to see the transition over the years so I have first hand experience of the way vaping is changing how working people enjoy nicotine.
I’m divorced, two grown-up kids who have fled the nest, and so living in a house in London with two sibling cats who revel in waking me up at weekends for no reason whatsoever.
For those not in the know – could you tell us a little more about what the NNA is and the work it does?
I describe the NNA as being a consumer-led charity which advocates for the greater availability of reduced risk nicotine products for smokers who choose to switch.
We are not a coercive organization, nor are we one which discriminates.
If a product offers the option of reducing harm from nicotine use, that’s harm reduction, so we are generally in favour.
We engage with health and regulatory bodies, consumers, politicians, industry, media, conferences and take inquiries from curious individuals interested in vaping products, of which there are many.
How did you get involved with the NNA and why?
I’ve been involved with the NNA right from the beginning when emails were being shared about registering as a charity.
I was an associate for years and have contributed articles, and shared my thoughts with trustees, but got more involved as time went on.
Because vapers were effective in postponing over-regulation of e-cigs prior to the TPD but a consistent voice to talk to influential UK regulators was required, and the NNA has been successful in that.
What’s the proudest moment for you so far as a vaping advocate?
The NNA’s Sarah Jakes giving evidence to the government’s influential Science and Technology Select Committee’s report on e-cigarettes, which resulted in widespread media coverage in August 2018, and whose recommendations were later accepted in full by the government.
It made media front page headlines and really upset opponents.
TPD2 is on the horizon – are the UK and EU safe from more red tape and anti-vape legislation?
(Note: It’s the review of TPD2 which will become TPD3 in due course)
No, absolutely not, and we are launching a major call to action in the new year.
As consumers we will have to fight as hard, or harder, than we did in 2010 onward just to protect what we already have.
I said on a panel at Vaper Expo in October that UK vapers should not think the government has their back and the job is done, we are at more threat now than we have been for 5 years.
EU and WHO storm clouds are gathering and we will need consumers to do a hell of a lot.
Complacency is not an option.
What are you expecting from TPD2?
Lots of creating ambiguity between illegal THC cartridges in the US with regulated nicotine e-liquids in the EU.
They will basically condemn their own broadly sensible regulations as being useless to prevent something that is only happening in the US.
The EU is still smarting at having to concede to consumers last time round and want to fix it by rolling the clock back to 2011 but with newer, disingenuous, weapons.
Vapers will have a lot of work to do in the coming year.
Is the NNA involved in the TPD2 debate? If so how?
Not so far, but we aspire to be.
We are also a founder partner of ETHRA, a collection of European consumer associations who we hope will mobilize to tackle the real potential threat of myopic over-regulation of e-cigarettes by the EU.
Find out more about EHTRA and how to get involved.
Given the current state of the vape in the USA and many other countries – what do you think the future for e-cigarettes and vaping is?
I think we will see a divide in policies between enlightened countries which see the potential benefits of vaping and ignorant policy-making in less enlightened countries.
For all the talk from the WHO about high levels of smoking in third world countries, they seem wedded to an ideology which cheers alternatives to smoking in poorer nations being banned while advanced countries accept harm reduction.
An alien to the planet would conclude that the WHO just wants to protect smoking in less-developed countries.
But I’m sure that’s not the case .. is it?
How can people get involved and why should they advocate for e-cigarettes?
2020 will require a lot of input from vapers as there are very real threats coming.
We will be encouraging vapers to write to politicians, non-governmental organizations, their government and others.
It is not an option to just duck out.
Vaping was saved in the UK in 2010 from prohibition by the MHRA by thousands of vapers writing to object.
Loud and persistent action by vaping consumers headed off medical regulations and a maximum nicotine limit of 2mg in the last TPD.
It is going to take that again.
They will be more determined this time so we must be as well.
Everyone should advocate if they use e-cigarettes because if they don’t there is a real chance that they might not have them for long.
This isn’t just an idle scare story.
To get involved, we would urge as many of your readers as possible to sign up as a supporter to get updates, we want – and are going to need – as many vapers as possible to make their voice heard.
Can people donate to the NNA and if so, what is the cash spent on?
Yes, we rely entirely on donations from supporters, we take nothing from industry.
Our annual budget would barely cover the lunch options at a public health conference, but we are trying to get the consumer voice heard among people who make regulations, are powerful, well-funded but really don’t like listening to us.
I self-finance my activities, as do many other NNA trustees.
Campaigns can be expensive and we expect the coming year will take a lot of effort.
Not only can people donate to the NNA, we hope they will do so we can build a campaign against imminent threats.
Our donate page is:
There are plenty of ways to donate to the New Nicotine Alliance advocacy charity including the VERY simple and cost-free to you SMILE Amazon programme.
With that, Amazon donates 0.5% of the total check out price – at no cost to you – follow this link: NNA Amazon SMILE – whenever you’re shopping!
I know you vape! Can you remember your first device and what are you vaping on now – including e-liquid and nicotine strength?
My first vape was rubbish, it was a cig-a-like someone showed me in a pub in 2007.
The first one I tried which had some semblance of working was from a magnificent member of the UK Vapers forum, Kate, but it took me years before I switched once tanks became prevalent.
It wasn’t till 2015 when I found one that I found confidence to use every day and in all circumstances.
That just shows how far innovation in vaping has come and why it would be madness to try to obstruct it.
I now vape fruit flavours of around 16mg MTL with a basic set up of a battery and Nautilus tank.
And finally – how will you be spending Christmas and if you could take over the Queen’s speech for a day – what would you say?
It’s my turn to cook Xmas dinner for my elderly mother, I have two sisters who have done the past couple of years.
I’ve never watched a Queen’s speech so I don’t know what she says but in her position I’d say for God’s sake can regulators just talk to consumers occasionally?
First off a massive thank you to Martin for taking the time out of his absolutely hectic schedule to take part in this interview.
And of course, wishing you a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and also take this opportunity to offer our condolences for the recent loss of your father.
As Martin so eloquently says, now is most definitely NOT the time for vapers anywhere in the world – including here in the UK and EU – to become complacent and sit on their laurels.
2020 WILL be make or break for vaping globally as we know it and to take the fight to the politicians is going to require ALL vapers backing advocacy groups and in particular the New Nicotine Alliance.
Once the festivities are over I urge you to get involved, whether that be signing up as a supporter – donating or finding out how you can become a local activist on line or in the real world.
Vaping really does need you now more than ever.
From myself and Jonny and all the team at EcigClick – a VERY Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!