Open Letter to all my Representatives

This letter is intended for all MPs, MEPs and Lords.

Thank you for your varied replies to my correspondence, it is appreciated that you take time out of your busy schedules to read and reply.

Unfortunately I am dismayed at the wide variety of those responses, not to mention the boilerplate responses which are intended to say very little other than provide some limited platitude. Those boilerplate responses did not address any of the concerns I had raised. It is a classic fobbing off and I am incredibly disappointed that you have felt it necessary to do that, to put it mildly.

This issue is important, not just for me but for 2.8 Million current vapers and for 9.6 Million current smokers. This issue has arisen due to unnecessary interference from the EU and will now be considered a factor by many in the upcoming Referendum.

The Tobacco and Related Products 2016 legislation that has been transposed from the EU Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU), specifically the sections related to Article 20 of the Directive, will have far reaching consequences that have not been considered in the Impact Assessment[1] considering that one of the stated aims of the Directive is “to harmonise the EU market” – a noble idea with one fatal flaw – at least 15 Member States have no implementation of the Directive, some Member States have “gold plated” the Directive – specifically, banning cross border sales, which is against one of the stated aims:

To reduce obstacles to trade in tobacco and related products within the EU by reducing differences between the regulatory regimes in different EU Member States.

Further to the UK Government’s own Impact Assessment, Action on Smoking & Health[2] and their own commentary on certain aspects of the legislation[3] specifically related to the limitations on nicotine strength available under this legislation ignores one of the key reasons why electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes/vapourisers) have worked for so many (2.8 Million UK users) – the pleasure principle[4], and grossly underestimates the effect that the nicotine strength limits will have[5].

I am one of that 2.8 Million that will be negatively impacted by this legislation, because I made a choice on June 11th 2014 to switch to vaping, but this isn’t about me. This is about the 9.6 Million adult smokers in the UK[6] and giving them the choice to switch to an alternative to smoking. Both Public Health England[7] and the Royal College of Physicians[8] have released reports on this subject, and both are proposing that e-cigarettes are part of a harm reduction strategy:

However, in the interests of public health it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes, NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking in the UK.

The limitations being imposed by the transposed Directive – the 10ml refills, 2ml tank size and limits on nicotine strength will have serious negative consequences for recent and new switchers. It is a matter of record that the research the EU used to draft these limitations was grossly misinterpreted[9], and sadly the science continues to be misinterpreted, or worse ignored.

It has become astonishingly clear that some are intent on keeping this legislation in its entirety despite the furtherance of research into the subject of vaping. Recently a Fatal Motion in the House of Lords had been proposed for debate, now that Motion has been changed to a “Regret” motion alongside two other motions[10] and an urgent debate under Standing Order 24 in the House of Commons has been deemed “not proper” to be discussed under So24[11], yet a debate on this subject is exactly what is needed.

The legislation, as it stands – and specifically the transposition of Article 20, is in a vital time where the portion directly related to e-cigarettes could have been nullified by the House of Lords thereby opening the way to regulating these products in a far more proportionate manner, allowing new users to switch if they wish and allowing existing users – both experienced and recent switchers – to continue using these devices to remain smoke free.

I urge you, my elected representatives, to open urgent debate, be open to both sides and give 9.6 Million smokers the same choice I myself made almost two years ago,  and 2.8 Million vapers the opportunity to continue to choose the alternative to smoking.

Paul Barnes

1 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/440994/TPD_IA.pdf

2 – http://ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_1011.pdf

3 – http://www.ash.org.uk/media-room/press-releases/:new-eu-rules-on-nicotine-strength-not-a-problem-for-most-vapers

4- http://nnalliance.org/blog/39-the-pleasure-principle

5 – http://londoneconomics.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/High_nicotine_e-cigs_ban-Feb14.pdf

6 – http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_93.pdf

7 – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-an-evidence-update

8 – https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/nicotine-without-smoke-tobacco-harm-reduction-0

9 – http://ecigarette-research.org/research/index.php/whats-new/whatsnew-2014/147-misinterpreted-research

10 – http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldordpap.htm#motdeleg

11 – http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2016-06-08a.1204.9

UK VapeFest: doubts, concerns & indecision

When UK Vapefest 2015 was announced around October last year, and having missed out on Vapefest 2014 part of me really wanted to go. I’d never been, so I was the epitome of a Vapefest virgin, so I scrambled to book some time off work on the Friday and Monday so I could leisurely stroll on over to Shrewsbury, settle into a hotel or a tent and be able to be up and about at a reasonable hour for both days, then take a leisurely stroll home on the Monday. (more…)

Showing support for #WorldLungCancerDay

It isn’t often that I post about things that are completely unrelated to vaping, but sometimes things happen that social media just doesn’t give enough space for me to comment with the entirety of my thoughts, hence the blog.

Today, 1st August 2015 is #WorldLungCancerDay and the subject of lung cancer, and cancer in general is one I hold near and dear to my heart simply because I lost both of my parents to forms of cancer. I donate on a regular basis to charities that are active in bringing the varying forms of cancer to the attention of the masses. The work these charities and organisations do is incredibly valuable in raising awareness and much-needed funding for the ongoing research into the varying forms of cancer, both for treatment and detection for the sufferer and for the families.

As we know, smoking is one of the leading causes of lung, throat and mouth cancers. One of the leading causes, not the cause. There are of course many factors that can lead to the development of the various cancers so it comes as absolutely no surprise that some organisations took the opportunity to push their own agenda.

Of course, I thoroughly despise any organisation or individual that makes use of a particular social media campaign to push their own agenda so imagine my delight when Faces of Lung Cancer replied to the CDC.

Effectively telling them to back off, but the CDC weren’t the only ones told to go away or at least not to push their own agenda.

FacesOfLungCancer2

 

In no uncertain terms, Faces of Lung Cancer didn’t want any association with smoking, which is absolutely correct. I even responded to the Blackwell tweet thanking Faces of Lung Cancer for insisting it.

I even tweeted out my own memories.

It isn’t something I do often, nor do I undertake it lightly as it is deeply personal, but I wanted to express my support to raise awareness, help end the stigma associated with lung cancer, and maybe even help raise some funding for a much needed cause. It wasn’t to be.

FacesOfLungCancer

For reasons, at the time that were unknown to me I ended up being blocked by the Faces of Lung Cancer twitter account. Needless to say I was thoroughly shocked by this, and truly upset. After all I had shown nothing but support, shared my personal storyIt upset me to the point that I tweeted:

The support from my close friends on Twitter was amazing and unusually for me, I’m finding it difficult to find the words to express how truly grateful and thankful I am.

The reason I, and many others got blocked?

So because one called them a “fuckwit” all vapers are now blocked. I don’t think that is entirely appropriate, have they blocked the CDC?

Oddly enough, the exchange between Lorien and Faces of Lung Cancer earned Lorien a block too, for asking why I’d been blocked.

Stay classy Faces of Lung Cancer, you’ve just lost the support of someone directly affected by the effects of losing someone through lung cancer.

Update: I woke up this morning (4th August 2015) to find that I had some replies from Faces Of Lung Cancer

Replies

Oddly enough, only one of them seems to exist, but thanks to Tweetdeck I’ve been able to catch both responses. To be honest, I know how easy it is to overreact to a particular situation, especially if it affects me personally. As I mention in the comments below this post, this blog was written in direct response to being blocked so you could say that I overreacted to the block. Maybe I did, fact is, my support of causes such as this won’t waver.

Thank you, Faces of Lung Cancer for the apology, we are after all on the same side, just approaching it from different angles.

Listen tobacco, it just isn’t working so I’m leaving you…

First off, a tiny bit of background to my thinking here. We should all be aware of the complete insanity portrayed by the BMA in the media recently, where the enlightened representatives spoke with calm authority on e-cigarettes and how harmful they were. Now of course, I’m pretty clued up on the topic as well I should be, but what about those that are considering the switch to vaping? (more…)

Opportunity Knocks

You may remember that earlier this week a whole host of bantha poo-doo hit the fan, covered quite succinctly by the wonderful VapeMeStoopid on her blog.  This all kicked off with the announcement that the Welsh Assembly were intending to impose a ban on the use of electronic cigarettes in public places (bars, clubs, and so forth) and to bundle them into the same restrictions for use as combustible cigarettes.

The Beeb, being the impartial organisation that they are ran this news everywhere. Local stations, 5 Live and of course splashed over their news website. ITV picked it up too but with a little more sanity than the industrious Beeb. (more…)

Going smokefree? Gone smokefree

I posted this as a guest on the Vapers In Power blog yesterday:

Break out the party balloons, those crazy assed poppers where you find the streamer stuff and end caps for years afterwards. Let’s have some jelly and ice-cream, trifle, and maybe, just maybe we’ll have some beers or cider if you prefer.

It is time for a little celebration! Why am I in such a good mood? Well, grab a drink and I’ll tell you. Might want to turn the music down a bit first. (more…)