Upset about the TPD? You should be

It is kind of unusual for me to post anything this early in the day as I normally like to sit and think on what I’ve seen before actually writing anything. Today however, some antics on Twitter really upset me. I mean, close to tears upset.

The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), specifically Article 20 is a God-awful piece of democratic bullshit. Don’t believe me? Read more about it here, here and here. I don’t need to, nor am I willing to go into any great detail about it. Continue reading “Upset about the TPD? You should be”

Hashtags and beanbags

OK, so not the most inspiring title ever conceived but I normally only post once every few days. Or try to at least. For once, you lovely folks are getting a double post out of me today.

No, this is not about the plain packs debacle. That one is just full of #stoopid for me to even contemplate right now. Besides, it has already been covered very nicely here. No, this one is all about our US friends. Specifically, Minnesota.
Continue reading “Hashtags and beanbags”

Why I Vape

This is a post that I’ve been putting off for a while as it contains a number of personal things. They aren’t necessarily secrets, I’ve just never really mentioned them.

I was a heavy smoker. Like super heavy, easily going through two packs per day and sometimes three or four depending on the day. I had a routine, wake up then immediately spark up. Coffee and a smoke. Get to work, coffee and a smoke. Four or five smokes before work officially started at 9AM. Regular smoke breaks during the day, two or three during lunch. You get the picture. Most of my smoking was either habitual or as a way to calm down and de-stress (when working on a tech support desk, it can get really stressful).
Continue reading “Why I Vape”

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.

7 Months On

June 11th 2014 – a date that I’ll remember for a long time.  This was the day that I stopped smoking traditional combustible cigarettes and made the switch to vaping.  I’d been dual using for about a week, effectively “training” myself to use the e-cig whenever I felt the craving for a smoke.

I used to smoke between 20 and 40 cigarettes a day, depending on my mood during the day.  It kind of came to a head when I managed to smoke 160 cigarettes over the course of two days – 4 packs per day.

I felt terrible, not to mention broke.  At £7.43 for a pack, equating to almost £60 for two days I decided enough was enough.  Smoking was too expensive, I didn’t decide to stop smoking because of the anti-smoking campaigns; if anything they made me want to smoke more (I can be a bit rebellious like that 😉 ).  There was a lot of stuff going on in my life where money was needed.

Since then, I’ve “saved” approximately £2,500.  I say “saved” as the majority of that went into other things that were desperately needed. One of the upsides of stopping smoking, is that I can now taste all the fun foods that I enjoy (yes I do like the sweet stuff to, so poke that where the sun doesn’t shine PH), not to mention I’m planning a week long get-away this year – something I’ve not really been able to do for a long time.

Having not smoked for 7 months, I decided to check the current costs of a pack of smokes.  My usual brand (Mayfair Superking) hasn’t changed much except £7.43 gets you 19 smokes instead of 20, but my alternative brand (Superking Black) is now £9.25 for a pack of 20.

It seems that the Tobacco Control folks intend to make cigarettes prohibitively expensive to force smokers to quit.  Throughout my smoking “life” I quite frankly didn’t care, I found the money to carry on doing what I enjoyed doing regardless of their campaigns to demonize and de-normalize the act of smoking.

Oddly enough, my first few attempts to “quit” with the aid of actual NRT ended up costing me more money then the act of smoking ever did.  Most Nicorette products are now about £10 or more, which is still more expensive then smoking, this more than any other reason was the reason I did not stop smoking using the “recommended options” – it was effectively cost prohibitive, and still is for most.

Having now spent approximately £200 (this is only a rough guesstimate) on actual e-cig hardware, the monthly costs are substantially lower – I generally spend about £20-30 per month on liquids, instead of the same amount per week.  Absolute no brainer from a financial stand point really.

My overall health is (to my own perception) far better than it ever was, I can do labour intensive tasks such as DIY without the need to take a break every 30 minutes so I’m much more productive.  I have much more energy then before, my sleep is still crap but there’s likely other explanations for that.

Everything I am now I owe a lot to e-cigs and vaping.

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.

 

To Vape or Not to Vape?

That is most definitely the question of the moment.

With the recent secret squirrel meeting of WHO in Russia (of all places) there has been a lot of talk in the media recently about bans.  Specifically, banning the use or cigarettes (including e-cigs) in Parks, Coffee Shops and of course TfL have decided to sneak in their own vaping ban.

Now, I’ve been stewing on these for a while waiting for any further fallout or other commentaries.

Turning to social media, questions have been asked time and time again about the “right” to vape in public places and of course as with any public discussion there is a multitude of opinions on this matter.  The underlying response that I saw from many was that they don’t want bans.  Fair point, I sure don’t want vaping to be banned either, but the burden is on the vaper to prove to the general populace that vaping isn’t scary, that it isn’t going to hurt them or their children.  Neither is it going to “re-normalise” smoking.

But, let’s switch our viewpoint for moment shall we? Continue reading “To Vape or Not to Vape?”

Myth & Magic : The Eternal Debate

I’m going to begin this one by posting up a few tweets from various users.

fitPrescription

If you like, the article this one refers to is here feel free to have a read, I’ll wait 🙂

Flahault1

Just so you know, Antoine Flahault is a respected Professor in Biostatistics and neither smokes or vapes, but is heavily vested in the truth.

I’m going to gloss over the tweets regarding Philly, because that little story is about money which is a whole different rant for another day 😉

Continue reading “Myth & Magic : The Eternal Debate”