The Lows of Tobacco Control

Yesterday was a normal Friday.  You know, looking forward to knocking off time at work, the weekend plans etcetera etcetera.  I’d placed a couple of orders for some vapemail to be delivered the following day.  Life was, in general pretty good.  Then late afternoon, my less than perfect little world was seemingly torn apart.  First, I’d like to give you a little back story.  I am a huge fan of science fiction.  TV series such as Stargate, Fringe, Star Trek, X-Files and so on.  I grew up to William Shatner being the Captain of the starship Enterprise (NCC-1701, no bloody A, B, C or D in the immortal words of James Doohan).  Yes, the show had long since been off-air, but several channels still ran the shows.  I loved them, it was the highlight of my week to sit with my folks and watch a few episodes of The Original Series.  Many of the lessons taught by Gene Roddenberry in those episodes still stick with me to this day.  It is part of who I am.
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Smoking or Cessation?

I do just want to warn you there is some bad language (and possibly grammar too) in this post.

I want to put this out there from the start. I am a former smoker.  I smoked best part of four packs per day for almost twenty years. Do I regret it? NO.

Put it this way, it was my choice to start smoking, and it was my choice to continue to smoke despite knowing the potential risks involved.

Does this mean that I’m now adverse to smoking? Fuck no.  If you want to smoke, smoke.  If you want to vape, then vape.  It is entirely your choice, I’m not here to judge you one way or the other.

So why am I talking about smoking on a blog about vaping?

Simple, they are linked.  They both give the person the nicotine “hit”, they both satisfy a ritualistic habit and they are both enjoyable. So why did I mention cessation in the title of this post? Well, it boils down to how society is now perceiving smokers (and by association vapers).  They are vilified, demonised, ostracised and made fun of.  The nanny statists continuously tap the average smoker for more tax money in a half arsed attempt to persuade them to “quit”.  Public Health grandees continuously beat the anti-smoking drum along with the “think of the children” cymbals to the point where if anyone lights up (or vapes) in a public area, you can feel the intense hatred emanating from various anti-smoking zealots nearby.

Frankly, it is fucking disgusting that these nanny statists are allowing the average person to be vilified in such a way, but they’ve been doing it for years.  So long in fact, that for the average non-smoker it is almost considered “normal” to look down and sneer upon their fellow human being as they light up a cigarette to satisfy that persons desire for their own personal enjoyment.  Admittedly there are some smokers that do want to quit and have, more often than not tried the “traditional methods”, I know I did.  They beg the NHS for help which doesn’t always work out.  Fortunately for these “troubled souls” there is a middle ground, with one fucking enormous drawback – the nanny statists insist that it is still smoking.

I have two words for those nanny statists. Fuck Off.

But never fear!  NHS Stop Smoking Services (SSS) in some areas are now offering a lower risk alternative to smoking.  Yes! electronic cigarettes are being made an option in at least two NHS SSS areas.  They don’t actually provide the hardware, but they do offer rational, impartial advice on how to use one, where to get it and so on.  They’ve studied the available information, and have concluded what we already knew in that electronic cigarettes (which I’m going to start calling “personal vaporisers” just to annoy people) are substantially less harmful than cigarettes.

The NHS, whilst not openly saying “yes use e-cigs” they are actually starting to support their use as an aid to quitting smoking, which as we all know is exactly what those in Tobacco Control want isn’t it?

Well, sort of.  It seems that the “war on tobacco” has actually devolved into “anything that looks like smoking”.  All propped up by money they make from the tobacco companies of course which is completely abominable.

But with the NHS SSS starting to come around to actual harm reduction using electronic cigarettes, this war is only just the beginning.

Is there actually a vaping community, or am I dreaming?

It seems like years since I last made an entry in this blog.  It has in fact only been a few weeks.  So little time has passed in the ever evolving world and so much has happened.

For a while there was plenty to be happy about within the vaping world. Dr Farsalinos managed to crowd fund his research, although it took a last ditch effort from the community.  The San Francisco #curbit campaign got hijacked by vapers on social media.  #FormaledhydeGate rumbled on, again.  Got thoroughly debunked, again.  The US Surgeon General called for “Clarity” on electronic cigarettes.

The California Department of Public Health declare e-cigs a “health threat” prompted by the pug faced troll, more commonly known as Stanton Glantz.  Various “public health” agencies and charities immediately called for bans and restrictions, etc. etc. etc. More yada yada.

Over this relatively brief period, I have consistently been amazed at the tenacity, stubbornness, and knowledge of various highly active vaping advocates.  These fine folk, without exception respond to and thoroughly debunk a lot of misinformation being published in mainstream media.  They jump all over social media and make their opinions known, and they are utterly relentless in their passion to defend our right to choose a safer alternative to smoking.

I’m not going to list those advocates here as you probably already know who they are, and indeed what they do for this community.  But this isn’t a round-up type post, it’s a rant because I’ve been vaping for (almost) eight months now and in that short space of time, I’ve gone from being absolutely stunned at the size of the community.  I’ve gone through amazement at the sheer variety of people, devices and choices available.  Somehow, I managed to take a wrong turn into dismay at the sheer incompetence of several prominent figures within “Tobacco Control” and “Public Health” who continuously insist that vaping is “as bad as smoking” (which we know it damn well isn’t).

Bypassing anger entirely at the continuous anti-vaping sentiment from “Public Health” and, my personal favourite, the fucking public who categorically state that vaping is bad for you and we should just “give it up”.  (We could of course “grow a backbone” but that’s another story).

Being a vaper presents a myriad of challenges all linked to the “War on Tobacco” but that isn’t the real rub here.  My own personal disappointment is one of numbers.

On Facebook I’m a member of several vaping groups where we like to bounce around the “hand check” posts, ask and answer questions, and generally enjoy life as a vaper with other like minded vapers.  The total number of members in four groups alone, is TWELVE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY.  

That is just FOUR Facebook groups.  Granted, there is going to be some overlap where the same person is in several groups, but even then it is still a healthy enough figure.  Many of those people also have Twitter accounts (I certainly do) along with forum memberships (which I don’t).  I wonder exactly how many online groups (Facebook), forums and other social sites (such as Google+) there are, and how many users are in them.

A lot more the twelve thousand that is for damn sure.

This is where it gets absolutely insane.  One of these users is, to put it mildly, a freaking genius and is planning on approaching IEEE in an effort to introduce more consistent safety in the batteries and devices we use.  Last time I checked, the Go Fund Me had been active for 17 days and had only received less than a third of his requested total of £1,500.  Remember, this gentleman is going to be doing this entirely for our benefit and he has only received eight donations.  To say I’m stunned would be a total understatement of exactly how disappointed and outraged I actually am.

Facebook (groups I am a member of) – 12,440

A valid crowd funding page – 8

That is hugely disappointing, especially considering that its all completely voluntary from the person in question.  He doesn’t have to do it, he wants to do it because he wants to make vaping consistently safer.  If everyone in each of the groups I’m a member of donated a single pound to this he’d be able to do the stated work and a whole lot more.  Understandably, not everyone can donate but even if half of those groups donate…its mind boggling the number of vapers that just do not seem to care.

And it is spreading.  Totally Wicked are challenging Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive which, if passed, will effectively end vaping as we know it.  At last check, they had received support from only five thousand, one hundred and twenty six people.

Again, look at the numbers:

Facebook – 12,440

Article 20 Challenge – 5126

It is utterly disgraceful.  In the UK alone there is meant to be 3.1 MILLION vapers, so why in seven hells are only five thousand lending their support to Totally Wicked? Why out of the estimated 3.1 million UK vapers, did we only get thirty thousand signatures on the European Free Vaping Initiative?

Does the community actually care about vaping?

Based on my own observations, and those of the “super active” advocates the answer to that question is:

No

So why do I keep trying to fight?

As Tyrion Lannister says “I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.”

*Update, I completely forgot to update this post earlier. The IEEE Go Fund me did get completed, courtesy of a discussion on VTTV and the support of the awesome peeps in chat, and at last count TW had close on 10K supporters.