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Understanding Vaping: engaging disadvantaged groups

This free to attend dialogue, hosted by the London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum, took place from 1400-1700, on Tuesday 31st October, in the Livery Hall, the Guildhall, Basinghall Street, City of London.

Members of the panel included:

Penny Bevan thumbnail
Dr Penelope Bevan CBE Chair
Director, Public Health for the City of London, UK
Penny has been Director of Public Health for the City of London Corporation and London Borough of Hackney for the past three years. She is a registered medical practitioner specialising in population health. Previously Penny was the Director of Emergency Planning and Response at Department of Health where she coordinated the DH/NHS response to SE Asian Tsunami, the terrorist incidents in London on 7th July 2005 and severe weather episodes. Prior to this she was a Director of Public Health in two DHAs as well as Deputy Regional Director of Public Health in London.
Helen Redmond
Helen Redmond is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is an expert in addiction and works with drug users and people with a psychiatric diagnosis. Helen provides consultation and training in tobacco harm reduction. Her goal is to help the most marginalized smokers transition to e-cigarettes. She is an independent journalist and has written about drug policy, drug treatment and the American criminal justice system for Al Jazeera, Alternet, Harpers and The Influence. Helen is a filmmaker and she made a short documentary about people with serious mental health problems and smoking. Her documentary,Ezra Dowery: Life on Broadway, was an official selection of the NYC Mental Health Film Festival, 2016.
Louise Ross
Louise Ross
Louise Ross is the leader of the Leicester City Stop Smoking Service. Louise finished a very happy and long working life in learning disabilities to work in tobacco control and smoking cessation, and has been delighted to discover a second career that has been even more satisfying than the first. Initially sceptical about ecigs, she has become a vocal advocate for their use as a harm reduction method, principally because she has listened to people who have used them to stop smoking, and has been utterly convinced by their sincerity. Louise is an associate of the New Nicotine Alliance UK, a charity committed to improving public health through a greater understanding of risk-reduced nicotine products.

The panel looked at restrictions on vaping for people already experiencing disadvantage, such as those detained in secure environments, those who have experienced trauma, are homeless, or from other marginalised groups. In all these instances smoking rates and the associated health risks are manifestly higher than in the general population.

Some questions the panel addressed are:

  • Who are we taking about?
  • What function does smoking perform for different groups?
  • What are the impediments to switching to safer forms of nicotine use for disadvantaged people?
  • What role can professionals play in changing behaviour?