So Who Are The NNA and Why Should Vapers Support Them?
Vaping seems to have been under threat since day one and even today with the plethora of scientific evidence out there pointing to e-cigs being 95% safer than smoking it continues to come under fire.
So called health professionals – the media and in particular Governments seem to chime in daily with vaping health scare stories – fake science and of course the constant need to ‘tighten’ legislation.
The vaping world as we know it would be a very dark place these days had it not been for the vaping advocacy movements that have sprung up to stem the flow of at times hysterical backlash towards e-cigarettes.
One group in particular has become a shining beacon of hope and a voice for the vaping movement as a whole.
The New Nicotine Alliance may still be in its infancy but it has powerful connections inside Governments – the scientific community and of course within health organisations and it’s using that voice to push not only the vaping message – but safe nicotine delivery in whatever form an individual chooses.
This is about harm reduction – getting people off the cancer sticks to safer alternatives and in doing so saving lives and indeed money from cash strapped departments like the NHS.
So who exactly are the NNA? What do they stand for? And what exactly do they do?
I had a chat with NNA Trustees Sarah Jakes and Gerry Stimson – both founder members incidentally – to find out more.
Both had input into the answers and you’ll see their initials at the end of each answer.
I’d also like to thank NNA administrator Jessica Harding for helping me organise this interesting and extremely revealing interview.
When was the NNA formed?
NNA was registered as a charity in February 2015, but the decision to form a charity was made in January 2014. SJ
Who began the NNA – who were the founding members?
The founding trustees were Paddy, Gerry, Lorien and myself. SJ
Why was the NNA formed?
We needed to find a way for consumers to have their voices heard in the debate and also to pool the expertise of consumers along with that of academics, researchers and others working in the field of tobacco harm reduction. SJ
Why was it decided the NNA was to be a registered charity?
In many ways, registering as a charity was probably the most difficult route we could have chosen, however the strict requirements for charity registration, together with stringent ongoing regulation has given the organisation a legitimacy it could not have achieved under any other organizational structure. SJ
What’s The difference between Associates – Patrons and Trustees?
Trustees have a statutory duty to guide the charity in order to ensure that it complies with the regulations which apply to all charities and works to achieve its aims and objectives. Our trustees, together with our administrator, also deliver most of the work which NNA undertakes.
Associates are people who work in similar fields or are otherwise interested and who support our work. Although they are not involved in the decision making processes, they assist us by lending their expertise when required, and promoting our work via their own networks.
Patrons tend to be people with higher public profiles and can also help promote our work. Like our associates, they play no role in decision making. SJ
When did the NNA first come into prominence?
Thanks to the year of work we put in prior to our registration as a charity, NNA got off to a flying start.
Our charitable status really opened doors and within a very short space of time we became the go-to organisation for practical information on the use of harm reduced products and in particular vaping. SJ
What conferences has the NNA attended?
The principal ones are: the Global Forum on Nicotine, UK E-Cigarette Summit, UK Nicotine & Smoking Cessation Conference, Public Health England conference. NNA Trustees have also attended and spoken at countless other events and meetings, including the APPG on E-cigarettes and meetings with the Department of Health and the MHRA. SJ
What input did the NNA have in the TRPR and TPD?
NNA was not formed when the TPD was passed by the EU parliament and all credit for the massive turnaround that occurred during that process is entirely due to the thousands of vapers from all over the EU, who fiercely lobbied their representatives.
Our trustees are very proud to have been a part of that movement.
Together with representatives from the independent vape industry, NNA attended meetings with the MHRA during the process of implementation of the TPD into national law, and was pleased to see some of the very sensible interpretations put forward at those meetings adopted. SJ
What is the NNA’s stance on TRPR and TPD?
Despite the aforementioned improvements achieved by vapers in the EU parliament both the TPD and the TRPR contain restrictions on e-cigarettes and vaping which are inappropriate, unjustified in science, disproportionate and will ultimately be harmful.
We also believe that the continued ban on snus contained in the TPD and TRPR is similarly harmful, not to mention completely illogical. SJ
What would the NNA like to see added or removed from the EU legislation?
NNA has called on the government to scrap those parts of the TRPR which apply to e-cigarettes and formulate new regulations which would uphold product standards and quality, encourage innovation, and recognize the very real benefits that vaping has to offer both as a means to reduce the harms caused by smoking and as a recreational product in its own right. SJ
In January NNA applied to the High Court to become an intervenor in a case brought by Swedish Match in an effort to overturn the ban on snus.
The Fight to Legalize SNUS
NNA supports access to all lower risk nicotine products.
E-cigarettes don’t work for everyone and we believe that there needs to be a range of different lower risk products.
Swedish snus is a low-tech low risk harm reduction product – probably 95 to 99% safer than smoking.
It helps protect people from smoking and in Sweden smoking is fast disappearing due to snus. Yet, in the EU, except in Sweden, it is illegal to sell snus.
NNA has joined a legal challenge against the ban on snus. We want to legalise snus because snus saves lives.
The UK High Court in January agreed that we could join a legal action against the ban, and the case is now with the European Court of Justice. We argue that people have a right to access and a right to choose lower risk nicotine products.
NNA is also campaigning in the media and to Ministries of Health in Europe to legalise snus, in conjunction with the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations and NNA Sweden. GS
What campaigns are you currently involved in?
We are campaigning against the EU proposals to tax e-cigarettes and other reduced risk products.
Also, against the TRPR (TPD). Another campaign is against the (almost) EU wide ban on the sale of snus. We are developing a campaign to raise awareness about vaping in premises (work places, coffee shops, etc).
NNA helped in the development of NNA Australia. In Australia it is illegal to sell, buy, possess or use nicotine unless authorized – with a fine similar to the fine for possession of heroin. NNA-UK supports NNA Australia in their campaign to legalize nicotine. GS
Why is tobacco harm reduction so important?
Tobacco harm reduction is hugely important.
‘Tobacco control’ works mainly on a ‘quit or die’ approach – in other words ‘quit smoking or suffer the consequences’.
Smoking has been stigmatised and nicotine demonized. But we know that it is the smoke and tars that cause smoking-related illness, not nicotine.
Tobacco harm reduction offers people choices. Safer nicotine products allow people to enjoy using nicotine without suffering risks to health.
The UK is fortunate in having a much more positive approach to e-cigarettes than many countries and as a consequence large numbers of smokers have switched to e-cigarettes.
There are about 2.9million regular e-cigarette users in the UK, and 1.5million of them no longer smoke cigarettes.
This is a huge success, driven by people freely choosing a healthier alternative. But there is a lot that is wrong: there are needless restrictions on e-cigarette equipment, a cumbersome product notification system, a ban on advertising, and increasing encroachment on where people can vape, and a ban on snus.
NNA continues to campaign for people to be able to choose and use lower risk nicotine products. GS
Does the UK Government listen to your message?
I would say it listens, but doesn’t always agree. If it listened and always acted in the way that we want we could all get our lives back! SJ
How do vaping manufacturers view your work?
We have never met anyone in the vape industry who is not supportive of our work. The influence of manufacturers and industry on regulators is limited to some extent because they have obvious financial conflicts of interest.
Consumers, including those among NNA’s trustees, receive no financial gain from advocating for vaping and in fact doing so actually costs many of us a significant amount of money.
We do it because we believe passionately in vaping and want others to have the same opportunities that we did. SJ
Why should vapers get involved with the NNA?
Although NNA relies very heavily on its trustees to fulfill its aims and objectives its strength is in speaking out for vapers and trying to protect what is dear to them. The more vapers we have registering support for us the louder our voice will be. SJ
How can they get involved?
Supporters can sign up HERE – although it costs nothing to sign donations are always welcome. SJ
How can they donate?
Donations are extremely welcome as we rely entirely on funding from individuals.
You can donate to NNA at our Donations page, HERE.
Also, NNA is now an eBay charity so people can add a donation at checkout, when buying something on there.
Finally is there any message you’d like to give the wider vaping community?
Yes – without vaper advocacy the effects of the TPD would have been far, far worse.
With advocacy we can overcome the barriers to an acceptance of the benefits of vaping for both harm reduction and pleasure.
So, take part in campaigns, write to your MP, write letters to your local paper – together we do make a difference.
Use your voice!
I’d like to thank Sarah – Gerry and Jessica for taking the time to answer these questions and I hope that like me you’ve learned a lot more about the NNA and can see exactly how they’re fighting for the rights of vapers and nicotine users.
I hope next time you see them at any of the vape shows and expos you’ll take the time to stop by – have a chat and sign up to support them.
And don’t forget the superb NNA battery wraps donated by Torchy – I bought a set a few weeks ago and have to say they are brilliant and of course all proceeds goes to the NNA.
OK, just as I was putting this article to bed I received an email from the NNA with their latest appeal for donations to help them take the fight against the TRPR and TPD further.
Here’s a brief snippet:
NNA UK is now the go to organisation for tobacco harm reduction in the UK .
With your support we are fighting back against excessive and crippling regulations and raising awareness about the use of harm reduced products – e-cigarettes in particular.
We are campaigning hard against the TPD and we will also soon launch a campaign to educate and inform about vaping in public and work spaces.
A tremendous amount of work is going into the battle to get the ban on snus sales overturned and the case is now with the European Court of Justice.
A win for snus would be a win for vaping. Read more in our latest News update, here.
We need funds to do our work. We rely entirely on donations from individuals so, if you like what we do, please donate to NNA.
OK you know what to do – DONATE HERE!