Clive Bates calls UK tobacco control plan ‘world first’ and ‘commendable’

On July 18, the UK Department of Health released their long-awaited tobacco control plan with a dedicated focus on reducing smoking rates in England to below 12%.  When former Director General of Wales and outspoken pro-vaping advocate Clive Bates reviewed the document in its entirety, he seemed quite literally gobsmacked by its vape-friendly tone.

Throughout the 32-page document, UK officials outwardly represent vaping and electronic cigarettes in a decidedly more positive light than in any previous publications.  While UK agencies like the Royal College of Physicians have often made claims that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking, Bates calls the recently released tobacco control plan a “world first” for the DOH. 

“The Department of Health (UK/England) today released its tobacco control plan for England: Towards a smoke-free generation: tobacco control plan for England.”
“The embrace of vaping and other low-risk alternatives to smoking runs through the text. This is probably the first significant government policy paper anywhere that recognises and pursues the opportunities of tobacco harm reduction, rather than defining these technologies as a threat to be suppressed.  For that, the Department of Health and its allies deserve considerable credit.”

Bates later goes on to call the report “commendable,” claiming that the UK tobacco control plan is perhaps the first-ever of its kind published by a federal government.  On his blog, he also promises to delve more deeply into the policy paper to “look for any mad ideas,” but his initial impression is hopefully optimistic.

Clive Bates: Major initiatives of the UK tobacco control plan

Clive Bates has not always been such an avid supporter of UK public health policies.  In fact, in April of 2016, he made headlines by publicly expressing outrage over the controversial TPD Article 20 which included several government restrictions on the British vaping industry that mimic those of America’s FDA deeming regulations.  Bates appears to view the new UK tobacco control plan as a very positive step in the pro-vaping direction.

The primary objectives of the new plan include the following:

  • To reduce the numbers of adult smokers in the UK from 15.5% to 12%.
  • To reduce the numbers of UK smokers under the age of 15 from 8% to only 3%.
  • To reduce the rates of smoking while pregnant from 10.5% to less than 6%.
  • To reduce the popularity of smoking among members of the manual labor workforce as compared to the general population.
  • All goals are to be achieved in five years or by the year 2022.

Bates also mentions that the UK tobacco control plan discusses indoor vaping.  The report even includes recommendations for employers on how best to introduce and manage policies surrounding this issue without discouraging vaping or unintentionally promoting a relapse into smoking.  Other topics contained within the policy document include vaping for medicinal purposes, heat-not-burn technology, updates on scientific research regarding vaping and tobacco harm reduction, and new measures being considered for review under the TPD Article 20.


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