A General Letter to Tobacco Control Advocates & Public Health

To All in Tobacco Control & Public Health,

Yes I’m speaking to you, and for once please listen instead of going glassy eyed and reaching for the infamous block button.

I vape and I’m not going to go away, nor am I going to stop vaping.

That’s right, I use an e-cig (or ENDS if you prefer the term coined by the WHO).  I prefer to use it because I no longer want to smoke tobacco.  Please see the difference here.

Definition of “smoke”

a visible suspension of carbon or other particles in air, typically one emitted from a burning substance.

Burning generally indicates combustion.  Burning indicates setting something alight or aflame.  Neither of which are ever found in vaping.  Instead a mixture of Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerin, Nicotine and some flavouring is heated and subsequently evaporated into a mist or vapour.

Evaporation is a type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs from the surface of a liquid into a gaseous phase that is not saturated with the evaporating substance. The other type of vaporization is boiling, which is characterized by bubbles of saturated vapor forming in the liquid phase

There is a big difference between “smoke” and “vapour”. I do not vape tobacco.  I do not smoke tobacco.  There is no tobacco in an electronic cigarette liquid.  So by those very definitions, I am not smoking a traditional tobacco product, but instead I am consuming Nicotine which although is derived from tobacco it is not tobacco.

By your own admission, you are “waging war” on tobacco and believe that you are actually winning.  You may be right, to an extent.  Traditional tobacco smoking is on the decline, I’m not going to disagree with that.  The amount of extra chemicals and substances found within a tobacco cigarette are disconcerting, especially as most have links to disease.

You banned tobacco advertising and sponsorship to lower the public profile of cigarettes.  It didn’t completely work, people still smoked.

You raised the cost of tobacco products by taxing them.  This too, didn’t completely work, people still smoked. They just had to spend more to continue to live with their choice.

You decided to add graphic images and bold warnings about possible risks.  Guess what?  That didn’t entirely work either, people just ignored them and continued to live with their choice.

You decided that retailers had to “hide” the products from general public sight in stores behind shutters, at a vast cost to the retailer.  I’ll bet you can guess how that went right?  Yep, hasn’t worked as anticipated.  All you’ve done here is cost the retailer lots of cash, which they’ll make back by increasing prices everywhere else so everyone paid for this idea.

Your latest trick is to have “plain packaging” – I seriously doubt that this is going to work either.  Having been a smoker through your previous attempts to coerce me to quit, I smoked anyway despite your best efforts.  Taxing them? fine, it just costs me more. Banning ads? fine, I know what I want anyway. Graphic images and bold text? completely ignored, I was well aware of the potential risks.  Hidden behind shutters? that didn’t stop me either.

So you see Mr (or Mrs) Tobacco Control Advocate / Public Health Official, all your attempts to win the war on tobacco have had an effect but not the effect you really wanted.  A lot of still-smokers, don’t really care about what you want, they have made their own choice to continue to smoke.

Now we move on to e-cigs.  These devices are most definitely viable alternatives to smoking.  They are inherently safer, by orders of magnitude safer.  Note that – safer. They are not 100% safe, is driving your car 100% safe?

As vapers, we know exactly what is in the liquid.  We know that PG is deemed “safe” for consumption. We know that VG is deemed “safe” for consumption.  Same for the flavourings.  We also know that nicotine on its own is no more addictive than caffeine.

Nicotine Health Benefits – yes it may be addictive, although some research indicates that it is not addictive as we have been led to believe, but does have certain effects which are beneficial.

Studies show that those that do actually give up smoking regain most of their health (lung function, energy levels and so on), as a vaper I too am regaining lung function and general overall health benefits. So when your “advocates” call the vaping community “industry shills”, “trolls”, “anecdotes”, or they completely ignore us can you imagine how that makes us feel?

For years as smokers, we had been demonised, ostracised, excluded, villified because of our choices.  Now that we have made another choice to use something that you didn’t think of we are once again, demonised.  We are ostracised. We are ignored. We are villified.

I tell you now, we’ve gone through annoyed, taken a left into frustrated, round the corner into bemused, turned right into irritated.  We’ve sped through to anger, broken through despair and are now thoroughly entrenched on the motorway of incensed.

We want you to listen to us. To talk to us. To learn from us.  We do not want you to continue this campaign of fear mongering PR.  We do not want you to bury your collective heads in the sand hoping we’ll go away.

You may be coming for us, but we won’t be going quietly into the night.

Bring. It. On.