Angels & Demons, The Vaping & Tobacco Version

I’ve resisted writing about this for several reasons, not least of which I’m still somewhat concerned about my relationship with tobacco, but I’m also one of those that likes to try to see both sides of the argument then make up my own damn mind.

On the one hand we have an ardent supporter of smokers rights who occasionally supports vaping, or at least doesn’t support bans. On the other we have prominent figures in vaping advocacy. Both sides can be viewed as being both angels & demons.

Take Clive Bates for example, back when he was director of ASH, a six-year tenure from 1997 to 2003 he worked on the development of the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control. Who else worked on that ? Derek Yach, former head of Tobacco Control for the WHO. Both of these individuals from a smokers perspective are demons, but are angels from a vapers perspective. Clive works incredibly hard in disseminating information to policy makers and guiding them (or at least trying to in some cases, he doesn’t always succeed you know he is human!) in drafting appropriate and proportional policies that mostly work in the vapers favour.

I’ve already had a lengthy pop at ASH based on their history here, I’m still wary of them and of Deborah Arnott, but I’m not going to reject them based purely on my views on their historical actions. Some of their current actions are, to my mind questionable, does that make them an angel or a demon? Maybe a bit of both, they clearly don’t support bans on vaping in public places (good for us), yet are going to lengths to continue the crusade on smokers, including a levy on tobacco companies (sounds awfully familiar to the MSA in the US doesn’t it?).

Suddenly though we’re supposed to forget that the same public health campaigners who currently defend e-cigarettes are often the same people who for years fought tobacco using the same dodgy research and twisted rhetoric they now accuse others of in relation to vaping.

Sadly, we are all guilty of doing something similar to this. Not necessarily in relation to research on vapour products, most of us try to walk the middle path but end up being more on one side than the other in any debate.

Is it right to fully dismiss historical actions and stances simply because individuals now believe the same as us? I don’t personally agree with all of what is said, from both sides, nor do I take what is said without questioning and digging a little deeper so that I can, armed with as much information as possible, make up my own damned mind.

This topic has sparked quite a discussion on Facebook, and on the comments of the blog post but I’m not going to go over those. Instead, I’m just going to leave my one and only comment:

I’ll echo Andy with my disappointment with the blog post, I can however understand why SC posted it. For my time as a smoker I was a target for any zealotry commentary, but I disagreed with any and all proposals that were put forward to curb what I saw as normal.

For me, the fundamental right to choose is and always will be at the forefront of my mind. I chose to smoke, and now I choose to vape. Do I take issue with the past of the four SC chose to right about? Honestly, I do somewhat. I view each of the four AND SC with a modicum of cynicism . However I will never, ever throw smokers under the bus, nor will I completely disregard anything SC, CB, LB, LR or DA say because of any history they have.

I understand that DA, LR and LB answer to greater powers and may not be able to come out with the level of support that me as a vaper believe they should (DA especially), but they have stuck their heads over the parapet for us. Even SC has done so on occasion. If there was a vote for repealing the smoking ban tomorrow I’d sure as hell vote for it, I’d also vote to keep any restrictions on vaping to sensible limits and I’ll fight for as long as I’m able to make sure that others have the same choices I had.

Peoples opinions change, and sometimes even more rarely people change too.

I’m rare, I support smokers rights AND vapers rights. After all, were us vapers not smokers at one time? By what right do vapers consider themselves superior to smokers? Isn’t one of the main arguments against vaping in public “because it looks like smoking”?

I for one will not use denigrating smokers as a means to advance my goals for vapers, to do that would in my mind only denigrate myself. Do we as vaping advocates not believe that smokers have rights too?

If I’m getting into the swamp, I’m not going to complain that I might get a little dirty. I’ll fight for smokers, vapers and harm reduction. End of story.