The war on what, exactly?

You see it all the time "They lied", "They peddle death", "The only product when used as directed..." - you get the drift. It seems there are some who just want to punish, and sod the "cure".

I was reminded, a few minutes ago, that certain quarters of the anti-smoker movement aren't just anti-smoker. They seem to have an irrational hatred of tobacco companies, too. Now, I can almost certainly guarantee that any of those folks will see that and say "It's not irrational - these companies peddle death, the only product that, if used as directed, will result in the early death of 2/3rds of its users".

Let's just for a minute say I accept that those figures are right. They ignore a whole raft of other products that the companies these people hate so much also produce - or at least market. 

Ecigs (and Snus). 

Now, one of the most voluble of the hate speakers - one Anna Gilmore - is pretty well known for her endless, tireless, and, frankly, pretty fruitless vendetta against tobacco companies. I've no doubt that many who will read this might well agree with her "We hate the tobacco companies" stance, but I'm going top carry on regardless. Sorry and all that, but I do my best to hate no-one and nothing. I like to examine evidence and weigh things up, so that's what's about to happen.

I had a long conversation with Anna a few years back, and discovered that she has, actually, bought ecigs for family and friends. Least, that's what she told me - and I have no reason to doubt her. But I can guarantee that said items would not have had the brand name "Vype" or "Nicolites" or "Vivid" on them (other tobacco company owned ecig brands also exist). 

Why? Because Anna is blinkered, like so many anti-smoker types. She worries that the tobacco companies are using ecigs as a means to get their feet under the negotiating table once more, and that, she thinks, is a bad idea. Because she hates the tobacco companies. 

So, she, and others like her, continues to campaign against the tobacco companies, even though (and this may be a little naive, but stick with me) they are at the very least in the ecig market. So, she won't talk to them. She won't meet with them. She and the likes of Martin McKee keep quoting para 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as an excuse to refuse to even acknowledge them. (As a matter of completeness, said para 5.3 only refers to governmental contact and doesn't actually rule out talking to anyone - it doesn't apply to either councils or researchers/academics/campaigners or anyone else). 

And so blinkered are Anna and her colleagues, that they actually miss the whole point. The true enemies are the diseases that they claim smoking "causes". Things like COPD, Lung Cancer, Cancer of the Pancreas - diseases that rob folks of years of their lives. 

Now, whether or not those diseases are actually caused by smoking, are "linked" to smoking, have nothing to do with smoking or are just coincidence is of little matter in this. That Anna and her friends are convinced that they are should prompt them to consider this: 

If the true enemies are fatal diseases (and they are), then any steps you can take to reduce the risk for folks should be taken to stop them from happening. 

Now, Anna and delegates to COP7 will doubtless claim that that's exactly what they're doing.

Ha! COP7 - the very place where, if Anna and her mates got the chance, ecigs would be banned outright. COP7, where the pre-meeting documentation urges signatory states to ban ecigs or severely restrict their availability. COP7, where, if it ain't a Big Pharma solution, it doesn't count and must be buried. COP7, where hatred of the tobacco companies is stoked in secret, and them promulgated worldwide in an organisation that makes the illuminati look like a cub scout pack.

Look, Anna - and her friends - you've got it wrong. If you were to talk to the tobacco companies and work out a way for them to be able to get properly into ecigs without killing every other producer in the market, you'd be battling the true enemies. But you won't, and by so doing, what you're actually doing is giving them the market. They are probably the only organisations with financial clout to handle all the stupid regulation you espouse so dearly.

If you don't trust them - and many don't - then don't give them an effective monopoly in the ecig market. If you're right about them, they'll use that monopoly to kill ecigs off. That's not very bright, is it? 

So, Anna, stop battling the tobacco companies, and start battling the diseases you claim their products cause. And, frankly, the best way of doing that is to thwart COP7's ambitions to get rid of ecigs. Get behind ecigs properly, Anna, and do the right thing. If you don't, and your predictions come true, you'll be responsible for many more early deaths. You. Nobody else. You. Think on that.