Thoughts, ramblings and shtuff Part 4

Poxy Proxy

Ever since the media kicked up a small storm over a 14-year-old having his vapouriser confiscated I’ve been thinking about this area. Of course, my own opinions are likely to differ from a lot of folks so feel free to take them or leave them.

As I mentioned at the start of the previous post on this:

I agree wholeheartedly that proxy-purchase should be allowed for existing smoking youth only. That is a given. If your kid smokes, I have no issue with an adult buying them a vapouriser. I’m more ambivalent towards proxy purchase if the kid in question doesn’t smoke but again, no real problem with it.

I also mentioned that the whole proxy purchase area is full of nuances, there are a whole host of questions with no real “right or wrong” answers. Continue reading “Thoughts, ramblings and shtuff Part 4”

Thoughts, ramblings and shtuff Part 3

This is another one of those “something on my mind” type posts where I’m going to try to clarify some thinking, and maybe organise the thoughts rumbling through my addled brain. It may also bring together some threads from previous posts that I’ve mentioned but not expanded upon. Continue reading “Thoughts, ramblings and shtuff Part 3”

Thoughts from the Dungeon Dimension

Thoughts from the Dungeon Dimension

What follows here is purely my opinion on what seems to be a subject that is becoming the flash point for a lot of debate, argument and bickering. I’ll try to be as coherent as possible.

Most of you know that the All Party Parliamentary Group on ecigs met last week and a lot of good things came from that, there is already a very good write-up on the meeting from James Dunworth over on the Ashtray Blog, after all he was there. I wasn’t. Most of the information that came from the APPG I know through either that blog, the VTTV show The Haze Hour the following day, twitter (of course), plus the following two blog posts. Sarah Jakes, guest posted on Lorien Jollye’s blog to clarify her personal stance followed by a second posting by Lorien herself.

Both of those posts were in direct response to some shenanigans on twitter, and frankly those posts needn’t have been written. That is mostly because I know the personal opinions of both Sarah & Lorien, I have the luxury of having access to a group not widely shared. I actually feel privileged to have access, even though I don’t post there very often. In this group several things happen, pre-release information is often shared and discussed, opinions are sought and most, if not all of the information contained in that group doesn’t get shared until it is necessary. I take on board everything that is posted in that group.

I have also, on rare occasions emailed Lorien directly posing questions and seeking clarification, though I do occasionally have to remind her to respond, but when she does her answers are insightful and very informative; and because it is private correspondence none of it will be shared. Thanks to this group, and the email correspondence with Lorien (and I thank her profusely for taking the time to answer my, what must seem to her, stupid questions) I have come to trust her opinions and judgement. I don’t always agree with them, but I take them on board for consideration before drawing my own conclusions.

Imagine my surprise when Lorien, and by extension the New Nicotine Alliance came under fire on twitter because of one comment that was taken out of context. The comment was:

Lorien of the New Nicotine Alliance believes that if the NHS supply e-cigs it would reassure smokers that e-cigs are safer than tobacco cigarettes.

Now of course, this has only come up at all because of the media frenzy surrounding the release of the PHE Report where the media, with its usual incompetence latched onto a comment made in the press conference and made that the headline instead of the actual point of the report. I myself, when I saw the preview headlines my immediate reaction to them was negative. “eCigs available on the NHS? WTF?” The blog I wrote on the day of the release was not entirely positive about it. I hated the thought that vaping could be viewed as a medicinal aid, or even licensed as a medicine; which we know that in their current state, they never can or will be.

I did post comments on both of the blogs by Lorien and Sarah, but because they are comments on the content of those posts, along with some of my thoughts I’ve since decided to flesh those out a bit more here. After all, this is one of the reasons I have this blog.

Whilst I agree with the principles behind the idea of offering free or low-cost ecigs via the NHS (or GP’s / Pharmacies) in order to reach those that may choose not to switch for a variety of socioeconomic or societal reasons (such as the ‘luxuries’ reasoning), the concern I have personally is how this would reflect on the consumer market.

Thanks to the complex nature of our country and the people who live here, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to anything and that includes vaping. At the moment, we have some Stop Smoking Services offering support on the use of vapourisers as a smoking cessation aid. All well and good, if stopping smoking is the goal. This is where my opinions diverge somewhat from most in the vaping community. I do not see vapourisers as a means to stop smoking. Yes, many have chosen to vape to stop smoking and that is absolutely fine. Others choose to use vapourisers instead of smoking, again that’s absolutely fine. In both cases, the user has stopped smoking. It is an individual choice. For some benighted reason, some people just cannot grasp this simple idea.

But. Let’s look at this from a SCA point of view. There are likely to be many, in varying circumstances that want to stop smoking by using a vapouriser, and here is where it gets a little complicated. You have folk that are, shall we say, “better off” as in, life in general is difficult but manageable. You have the “well off” folks where life is ‘relatively easy’, and you have those folks that struggle. It’s a simplistic view of a complex socio-economic picture. As I’ve learned, many in the “well off” category; the upper-mid and upper classes if you will, generally don’t smoke. There’s a lot of reasons for this, some of those may be the simple fact that most “professionals” don’t smoke themselves, so it can be viewed as a kind of “reverse peer pressure”. As you move down the “class ladder” smoking becomes more prevalent, again for a variety of reasons and Sarah touched on those in her post.

For many people smoking could be one of their only luxuries, and it’s a social thing which people share – it could be that it means a lot more to people in those groups than it does to those with more alternatives. If so then the lost enjoyment cost of giving up smoking could outweigh the perceived benefits, or at least be much more finely balanced than in other groups.

I’ve always considered myself to be at the lowest end of the “middle class” where life is ‘relatively’ easy if managed carefully. Sure I’ve made mistakes, who hasn’t? The point is, I viewed smoking as an enjoyable societal activity, despite the fact that society as a whole shunned it. Did I consider it a luxury? To an extent maybe I did. But Sarah raises a valid point. Slight tangent here, I play a lot of games of varying genres and in games like Civilization and Colonization, tobacco (when it is mentioned) is classified as a luxury item. Does that same thinking apply to those in the “lower socio-economic” groups? Possibly, and a point of view I’d not really considered until now.

So if ecigs are to be made widely available to any and all who want them, there does need to be a cost-effective strategy for that group. It’s fine and dandy for the likes of me who can afford things, but there are several groups where access to ecigs aren’t exactly clear or cost-effective. Both Lorien and Sarah agree on this point.

If they chose to, they could go to their Dr, get a (probably crappy) e-cig and suddenly you have proof of concept. They get the chance to say ‘Oh wow this is utter pants but tell you what, I bet the ones they sell at the garage are better than this! Have you seen all the different flavours? Sod it, I’ll try one!’

— Lorien

 

What we are talking about is enabling the NHS to offer people a device which could start them on the road to switching to vaping – people who would not otherwise try, perhaps because they don’t want to risk spending their cigarette money on a product which will not replace them, or perhaps because they are not confident about the relative safety of ecigs. In either case the NHS can offer confidence and support for those who lack it and perhaps for some a cost-effective financial (for the state) solution for those who won’t take the initial risk.

— Sarah

So, as I said in the first part of my comment, I agree with this; in principle. But.

Let us assume for a minute that a device is available via the NHS; let’s for the sake of argument call it the “medi-cig” and it’s available via referral from your GP, or over the counter at your Pharmacy, or via a Stop Smoking Service. It isn’t free, it’s provided to these services by a local vape-store at cost, the only cost to the individual is possibly a small, perfectly balanced fee or in some extreme cases it is free. It is a 2nd generation device with limited functionality, so no variable wattage or voltage; a CE5 with a simple standardised battery for example.

These are then given to certain groups of people as an aid to stopping smoking or as an alternative to smoking, either way the end result is the same. This “medi-cig” helps a lot of people stop smoking, which is great for those that choose it. But. As I mentioned in one of the comments, I have more of a “smoker mentality” than most. I loathed NRT simply because of one word – “therapy”. Because of that one word, it put me in the mindset of “something is wrong which needs medicinal treatment”. Whereas this isn’t strictly the case at all. It is more a way of altering a ritualistic habit. Calling it a “therapy” implies that smoking is a disease or sickness that requires intervention. It isn’t.

Putting a ‘medi-cig’ out there could feasibly give that same impression (especially if it is actually called a medi-cig), and by extension the consumer products could also be viewed by the rest of the never-smoking population as the same thing. But we know that there will never be a medically licensed e-cig this was soundly put to bed although it could remain an option but is (as Clive Bates says) an entirely unattractive option at the moment but could come in later once the dust settles from the implementation of the TPD, and hopefully with a bit more flexibility.

Seeing a device handed out via the NHS at a cost to the user is a reasonable course to my mind, it allows those not willing or able to take advantage of another option.

it’s a tantalising opportunity, but care must be taken not to allow the consumer products be viewed as an extension of a “medically approved / provided” product.

Finally, my sincere thanks to both Lorien & Sarah for posting, though I still believe it wasn’t entirely necessary (as such). Hopefully, this matter can be put to bed once and for all. I don’t want to see a medically regulated device (which is impossible anyway), but I would like to see vapourisers available in the widest possible way, and if providing them at cost via SSS or the NHS is going to happen, it simply widens the scope of availability.

Three different blog post authors, one subject with three differing views leading to similar conclusions.

Update

I mentioned I left a comment on both posts. Sarah has taken the time to respond to mine, I’ve included the full response below:

I think the consumer market and vapers ourselves are by now so well established that I would be amazed if the existence of a med-ecig made any difference at all to public perception of ecigs in general. To my mind it would be far more likely that the public would think ‘hey look, that beardy tattooed rabble were right – and now even the NHS is jumping on the bandwagon’.
The idea that a late coming medicinal version of something taints the whole category just seems unrealistic to me – it’s not as if people stopped buying chewing gum or sweets when nicorette gum and lozenges hit the market.
My personal view is that a med-ecig will never exist (unless the MHRA drop the bar by a substantial amount) and so this whole discussion is moot. The fact that they haven’t yet done so tells me that they don’t understand ecigs (no surprises there) and given that they will be the competent authority for TPD regulated ecigs that is by far the more worrying aspect we need to overcome.
NHS prescription of ecigs is a side show – it might work for some people, it might not but as far as I can see trying doesn’t have a downside.

Like Sarah, I don’t believe a med-ecig will ever exist, but we do differ in our opinions on public perception; that’s absolutely fine I’m not going to hold that against her at all. It’s a simple case of agree to disagree on that point, which frankly is a minor sub-point of the entire discussion and is barely relevant. But we do both agree, the option to provide ecigs via a medically approved route such as the NHS doesn’t have any major drawbacks and may even help. But as Sarah succinctly points out:

There are more important things to concentrate on.

Cannot refute that at all.

Tanks for the thoughts…

Tanks, tanks everywhere…

There is a saying on Twitter, “If you can’t debate in 140 characters or less, you’ve lost the argument”. Sometimes this could be true, but in others the character limit is incredibly limiting, even with character substitutions and abbreviations it is incredibly difficult to get your point across on a complex subject.

This is one of the reasons I have a blog, so I can take my time and be as wordy as I like to explain things. Continue reading “Tanks for the thoughts…”

The walls are closing in

The walls are closing in

In a rare moment, I came within a hairs breadth of totally losing my shit on social media recently. Not just a minor spat, but full on warp-core style meltdown. Not aimed at anyone, just endless frustrations boiling over.

There has been a lot going on in and around the community recently, mostly centred around diacetyl and AP in liquids. Well respected names are being called out in a public display of shaming. Yes it is disappointing that diacetyl and AP are still being used, and even more so that juice makers are either hiding or lying about their test results, but that’s not the main reason for the almost melt-down.

No, the cause of this is in fact nothing to do with the industry or community. It is how we are perceived. We have local and State governments declaring that e-cigarettes are equivalent to tobacco. We have these same governments tying vaping into smoke-free laws preventing vapers from being able to vape inside, and some are even looking to ban their use outside. Some are even banning the use of the devices in vape stores.

It is utter insanity, but there is no end to it. In the US alone, many states are proposing or passing legislation that goes further than the FDA deeming. The UK is divided with England, Wales & Scotland all taking substantially different approaches. The EU is a mess and down under is just shambolic.

A few things have hit home for me recently. There is the disappointing lack of support for the Article 20 Legal Challenge especially from the EU countries. There is the consistent head-in-sand attitude of many vapers, the divide between the on-line communities and the in-fighting.

There are some vapers who win raffles and competitions that decide to sell or trade their prizes. To be honest, I have no real issue with it as such, but many do and I take issue with that. For years I tried to win big prizes (non-vape related) only to have the intention to sell or trade it later. This kind of infighting needs to stop, if nothing else all it is doing is dividing the community even further when we desperately need a united front.

We have many organisations across the globe that are out there doing their damnedest to ensure that vaping as we know it is protected and yes even regulated so that it is safe for all. The New Nicotine Alliance is one such organisation but they have a disappointing level of support.

Let’s be honest, if an organisation said to you “We have the support of 300 people” would you take them seriously? Unlikely. Would you be more willing to listen to an organisation that said “We have the support of 30,000 people” ?

Probably. At last count the Article 20 Legal Challenge had the support of 33,437 across the EU. There are 2.6 MILLION vapers in the UK alone! There is over 10 MILLION worldwide!

Looking at those figures alone makes me feel pretty despondent. Every time legislation is passed that is anti-vaping, it feels like a crushing defeat.

Each jurisdiction that goes down is another lemming in a migration poised to go over the cliff unless we stop the momentum. Those of you sighing in relief that this isn’t your backyard would be smart to step up your game ASAP to get out in front of this. It is almost certainly coming to where you live.

Dangerous precedents are being set in the US with a huge 70% tax on liquids AND devices putting vaping on a par cost-wise to cigarettes! At least one store is going to close because of this.

DC_Tax

Wales (UK) are looking to ban the use of vapor products in public places, England have said they have no intentions of doing that. No doubt other US States and the UK will be looking at this with an eye on doing the exact same thing.

I’m not going to give up, far from it. My time and efforts are now going to become far more focussed. I’m already a nuisance to my local MP, I’m going to be even worse now. I’m going to bug my local NHS trust and GP surgery. I’m going to bug anyone and everyone who has even the smallest amount of power or influence. I’m going to encourage as many as I can to support the New Nicotine Alliance. I’ll get medical professionals to join M.O.V.E and finally, I’m going to hound the shit out of everyone to SUPPORT THE ARTICLE 20 LEGAL CHALLENGE.

In case you haven’t seen them:

[widgetkit id=”4″ name=”Supporting”]

In the famous words of Mr Dave Dorn:

Don’t stock up, man up and fight!

Let’s turn this small gathering into this:

It is long past time that every vaper stood up and did something. I believe. Do you?

Community Service

Community Service

It’s odd isn’t it?  A global online community of vapers numbering in the thousands, nay millions. One huge, dysfunctional family.

So why is it that when the community is needed, only a few hundred step up?

https://twitter.com/vapemestoopid/status/609740393224257536

At last count, 1,373 signatures on the campaign started by the Welsh Liberal Democrats. This is not a campaign to raise funds for research, it is a campaign to let those with more power than sense know how very wrong they are. Yet only 1,373 seem to care enough to sign it.

As with anything related to vaping advocacy, the numbers fall desperately short. As members of the huge #vapefam there should be at least three times that number of signatures. It takes seconds to complete. After all, the introduction should tell you all you need to know:

Makes perfect sense to me
Makes perfect sense to me

 

If you care about keeping vaping as it is you’ll sign every single petition you can find that are against any ban or tax proposal. Less than sixty seconds of your time could push this debate beyond the tipping point to stop the ridiculousness of this ban.

Stop Welsh Labour’s e-cig ban

Some randomised thinking

Random Thinking

As with everything I post on this blog, the subject is one I take relatively seriously and often I put a lot of thought into saying what I want to say. In this instance, it’s more a case of trying to put some coherence into my addled thinking.

It is yet another topic that has been at the back of my mind, and it includes some generic observations that I’ve made over the last twelve months. Continue reading “Some randomised thinking”

Batteries not included

Well now it has been over a week since I last posted anything, and there’s a reason for that. I went on holiday. The first actual “going away from home for longer than a weekend” type holiday in almost twenty years. Gah, saying it like that makes me sound like some crazy hermit that only stays at home.  I’m not by the way.

By now, you’re probably backing away from this post slowly and to be fair, I can’t really blame you.  I’m still on that holiday buzz which will probably end with a crash when my alarm goes off in the morning to get my sorry ass back to work. Continue reading “Batteries not included”

Why We Should Support….

This is more of an opinion post than anything else. As a vaper, you should by now be fully aware of the EU TPD and the implications for vaping as a whole.

In one of my earlier posts, I received a comment mentioning that Totally Wicked should not have put their business name on the campaign to challenge Article 20.  I’ll admit I have been putting this post off, not because I don’t want to cover it, but because I wanted to give it some extended thought. Continue reading “Why We Should Support….”