Well come on in and have a seat folks we need to have a little chat. All the drinks are on the counter over there, sorry Dave, no home-brew cider, not after the last time.This post is going to take a slightly different approach to my usual style, but first I’ve said this before and it seems I must needs say it again:
I have no affiliation with, nor do I work or receive payment from any vaping business or advocacy group.
It gets a little boring having to repeat that time after time, after time. Maybe one day, I’ll have an image created so I can just link to it. One day.
The topic I aim to cover in this post has been covered before, many times but it seems to be one that keeps recurring.
Oh myy. Professor Mike Daube (of ‘Health Policy’ at Curtin University) is suspicious of the motives of online advocates. Well Mr Daube, take a look at the disclaimer above. That is who you are accusing of being “vermin”. Me, and dozens like me who are regular people working regular jobs in a variety of places ranging from freelance writers, waitresses, IT engineers, medical professionals, graphics designers, web designers, store keepers. People from all walks of life, all ages.
The recent article, published in the MJA (Medical Journal of Australia) and the Medical Observer, both require a valid subscription to access as both sites are aimed at the medical profession, or those associated with it. It is all well and good having an article published, I do however disagree with hiding this particular article being behind a subscription or pay wall.
Those of us that choose to advocate for electronic cigarettes, whether we are users of those devices or not are advocating for our health, and as we are members of the public we can be considered as advocates of public health.
When choosing particularly contentious issues to discuss in public, there is going to be a wide variety of opinions directed at the individual. There is also, a wide variety of attitudes towards the subject matter ranging from hostile through to polite and everything in-between.
Now, Lorien has also gone over this particular subject with a touch more finesse than me, as has Clive Bates. Both of those posts are still perfectly valid as they describe the situation we continue to find ourselves in perfectly. The main purpose of this particular post is to put across my own thoughts, and specifically address Mr Daube directly whilst simultaneously offering an opening for reasonable debate, so without further ado my own “open letter” to Mr Daube:
It is with mixed feelings that I feel compelled to respond to the recent article published in the Medical Observer and the MJA today 7th April 2015 specifically relating to the commentary aimed at “anonymous forces” being backed by “commercial interests”.
I, like many of my online friends may use a screen name, but we are indeed real people that hold strong beliefs on various subjects. I’m sure that you can imagine our surprise when we read the article, and how we now feel when you refer to us as “internet vermin”.
The only “vested interest” that I and my advocate friends have, is determining the truth in relation to electronic cigarettes, and whilst we are vocal in that interest, we are more than will to engage with you and your colleagues to find a reasonable balance for all.
I myself am willing to disclose any and all financial information with you and your colleagues as, to put it frankly, I personally have nothing to hide. I do not, nor have I ever worked in the either the vaping or tobacco industries. I further disclose that I have donated to advocacy groups and charities that I support as they are simply an extension of what I am personally trying to achieve.
I firmly believe in opening channels of communication between myself, my fellow advocates, you and your colleagues to further the goals of providing a viable alternative to smoking. We do not plan or orchestrate any of our responses to articles or social media, we simply react. Twitter is a great place for rapid dissemination of ideas, Facebook allows for longer format debates, and blogs such as this one allow the author to reflect on a particular issue and frame his or her thoughts in a variety of ways.
These are the tools that are available to us the public, and to dismiss us because of adversity on those platforms whilst contributing to articles that we cannot view simply defies belief, and frankly sends the wrong message.
I ask of you to listen to the online communities, engage with them but do not dismiss them. They are after all, the public whose health you are responsible for.
I await your response.
Conflict of Interest: I receive no funding or materials, from any association, vendor, retailer, advocacy group or charity for my efforts in highlighting or discussing articles related to electronic cigarettes. All public postings on social media and this blog are on my own time.
Now, the ball (as they say) can now firmly be placed in the court of Professor Daube.