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It happens all the time. People - like one Doctor Helen O'Neil - open a twitter account, post some bollocks and then close it when they're challenged. It's the tactic of cowards, in my opinion, because they usually do it in order to escape critique and debate.
The above mentioned person has been the impetus behind a particularly egregious press release that has (almost word for word in two newspapers (a term I use lightly)) gained some traction and notoriety without one paragraph of the study to which it refers being published anywhere I can find.
Bottom lining the whole thing, it reckons that vaping such a flavouring as Cinnamon (the "chemical flavouring" for which is Cinnamaldehyde, also present in Cinnamon itself) renders a bloke's sperm immotile, or, at least, damaged such that his fertility is compromised.
The mechanism for this, of course, is that cinnamaldehyde enters the bloodstream via the lungs - it's being vaped - and travels bollock-wards in the bloodstream. According to the good doctor, that's where it wreaks havoc. It makes a bollock of the swimmers in the bollocks.
But hang on a mo. If you EAT cinnamon (also containing vast quantities of Cinnamaldehyde (did you like my use of the researcher's "vast" there?)) it, too, enters the bloodstream, and, given that it's in there, also heads bollock-wards, where it, too will etc.etc.etc.
Now, there's no need to get into bio-availability here, but I think I just might. I'm going to suggest that, in vapour, the amount of cinnamaldehyde present is really very low. Eaten, it's highly likely that there will be a greater quantity entering the body. How much of either will enter the bloodstream is, as far as I'm aware, unknown. Dr O'Neil should have studied that. As far as I know, she didn't. Given that she's actually an early career "expert" on reproductive mechanisms, if the vape scenario rang danger bells, she should, as a matter of urgency, in fact, have broadened the study to discover what could be vital information for those seeking to reproduce.
In other words, if there's a substance that adults (and cheeldrens) the world over imbibe, ingest, eat, swallow, vape or even breathe that can adversely affect their reproductive capabilities, then the world deserves to know.
But, of course, she hasn't gone there. Nope. SHe's just made sure that alarmist drivel about ecigs gets press released to as many papers as possible. Apparently, she's going to be presenting this load of bollocks to a conference around about now. The folks there will know nothing much about vaping. They're quite likely to take her word for it. Unless, of course, they get to see the study itself and can actually think.
Professor Peter Hajek has had his say...
Nononono... not for willies or horizontal nudy prod. I'm talking for Lithium Ion batteries (or cells, for the purists).
When you go to buy a normal alkaline or whatever 1.5 volt or 9 volt battery at the garage, you're normally doing that because the ones in your TV remote or smoke alarm have gone flat. As a matter of course, you take the dead ones out and bin them, then get the new ones, unwrap them, and bung them into whatever it was that wasn't working. And that's it. The more prepared amongst us may have a spare pack of four in the kitchen drawer, in the bubble pack or a cardboard box.
It is vanishingly rare to hear of anyone carrying a couple of AAA or AA or even PP3 batteries around as spares. People just don't do it. Unless they're gigging musicians. They carry lots of spares. Usually in the blister pack they bought from the garage, or in bulk packs bought off the internet.
So, the fact is, most folks have little or no experience of carrying small tubes packed full of energy. They do NOT know just how energetic these things can be (yes, even alkaline ones).
Now, we all know (or should know) that the bulk of thermal runaway events with lithium ion cells happen because said cell was dropped into a pocket or back full of coins and keys. There is a short circuit, the battery/cell overheats (often amazingly quickly) and there you have it - a pocket bomb, burned leg, side, hand - wherever happens to be in the firing line.
The simple cure? A battery condom or plastic secure carrying case.
Because folks are, as I have described right at the top of this piece, not used to carrying batteries safely, they should NEVER be supplied WITHOUT the protective case or condom. Ever. And there should be a notice on each individual cell, obscuring and insulating the terminals, informing the purchaser that every cell should be in its case or condom when it is not in use or being charged. And another bloody great big card/leaflet/notice separately confirming and reinforcing that.
Who does this scheme benefit?
The vendor, for one - because he has fulfilled his obligation of safety and warning. If all that's in place and so twonk drops a bare cell into his pants pocket, he can't say he wasn't warned. So no law suit.
The inexperienced user, for two. - because it may just stop them needing skin grafts, if they act on what they've been told - after all, they don't know they needs condoms or cases.
The rest of us, for three - because it'll help stop these bloody silly going postal events, which, in turn, will take the heat off those of us who have to educate folks...
Trust me, vendors - stick you logo on a condom that costs coppers, call it advertising (which you can do - it's not on telly) and NEVER EVER SELL A BATTERY WITHOUT A FUCKING CONDOM!
I dunno - you think you've done your blogging for the day, then you get an email that sends shivers down your spine. It contained this, which I present for you to download...
TLDR: Big Pharma wants Stop Smoking Service commissioners to stop SSSes from being ecig friendly, use only THEIR medicinally licensed NRT products and to insist on ALL clients being nicotine abstinent at 12 months.
It's directly contradictory to PHE guidance.
It contradicts NCSCT guidance
It contradicts upcoming and already extant NICE guidance
It's their attempt to get things back the way they were a decade or more ago, before NRT was licensed as a harm reduction strategy.
Expect the usual suspects - Capewell, McKee and Glantz to support it. Chapman won't. He doesn't like NRT almost as much as he doesn't like ecigs.
Theere you go - download it, read it, and realise that the tobacco companies aren't the ones trying to get ecigs banned. It is, and has always been, Big Pharma. THEY are the problem.
I keep seeing it, you keep seeing it - those anti-nicotine who say stupid things like "Yes, ecigs are safer than smoking, but they're not SAFE".
Here's MY point... NOTHING is safe. Nothing. There is no such thing as "safe" in the real world.
Every instance of "safe" needs a modifier - even the definitions to the left there have modifiers - "Safe from marine predators" - but not devoid of all risks. "Not likely to lead to harm or injury" - again, implies zero risk, but the example given, crossing a river where it is "safe to do so" actually DOES involve risk.
So, in truth when we're talking ecigs, and we want to use the word "safe", I think we actually can. They are "safe" ENOUGH to satisfy the generally accepted definitions of "safe".
Is crossing a main road safe? Well, no, not absolutely. It always involves some risk. So, is NOT crossing the road safe? Nope, probably not, as it, too involves some risk (as in a bus, car, whatever may mount the kerb on the side you're on and hit you, so, for all its risks, crossing the road may have been safer in that scenario). So given two possible actions, neither is safe.
Enter the risk assessment. Anyone who has spent any time whatever working in the entertainment industry (or any other that involves folks actually doing things) will have conducted risk assessments. Since it's generally acknowledged that nothing can ever be described as "safe", we now have to assess the risks of doing absolutely everything. And I do mean everything. And then we have to mitigate or minimise those risks.
Guess what ecigs do! Yup - they mitigate and minimise the risks of using nicotine.
AND THEY'RE SAFE ENOUGH. SAFE ENOUGH TO BE CALLED "SAFE". OK?
On Monday night on VTTV Monday I said I'd blog to explain why using multiple coils and higher wattage can have a sort of "milligrammage multiplying" effect. That is to say, how a 3mg liquid can satisfy a 24mg vaper, and why eight coils in an octocore with 6mg juice can keep me happy when I was using 45mg and higher e-liquid.
So, the basics. First, what is all this "mg/ml" stuff?
Well, simply put, if you have 1 millilitre of 6mg e-liquid, you have 6mg of nicotine. So a single ml of 24mg (2.4%) juice has 24mg of nicotine in it.
Next uo, how do we get the nicotine into us?
Again, not hard - a single coil in any e-cig is, basically, acting like a tiny kettle. It pumps heat into the liquid, and once enough heat is pumped into the liquid, it will evaporate. For us, this happens quite quickly, because we're talking small amounts of liquid and reasonably high power levels. Now, this is where the physics comes in, and where people start to get confused.
Latent heat of vaporisation/Boiling point.
Every liquid requires a different amount of heat to boil (become a vapour). It can be measured by the number of Joules per unit of volume it takes to do the deed. It's explained clearly here and is the basis for how multiple coil cores and atties work.
So, if one single coil can vaporise, let's say, 1ml of 6mg eliquid per minute at any given wattage (trying to keep it simple here!), then it will release 6mg of nicotine for someone to enjoy in that single minute. If you have eight coils, all at that same wattage, then, between them, they can vaporise eight times as much eliquid in that same minute - so between them would release 48mg of nicotine to be used and enjoyed.
Now this is where it gets interesting. A single Mouth to Lung draw has a volume of between 50ml and 100ml, so, even if you were using eight coils, you could only draw in a finite "volume" of vapour. Because those coils in the core produce a vapour that is "up to" eight times denser than the single coil (and this is very, very dependent on airflow - it's gonna be airy) you might think that you'd be getting eight times the 6mg - but, in all honestly, the likelihood it that you wouldn't.
Take the same setup, though, and get increased airflow, and then take it direct to lung, and, all of a sudden you're likely to have a system that has each of those eight coils producing at full capacity for long enough to allow you you suck nearly a litre of vapour into your lungs. And you will get close to achieving and eightfold increase in the amount of nicotine that's presented to your body.
This is why very few "Cloud Chasers" or DTL vapers use anything much beyond 6mg - the throat hit on 24mg juice in an octocore device would be tremendous. I could handle that on a dual coil, but, after trying it out a few times on higher numbers of coils, I can tell you it gets quite rough!!
So, to sum up, by multiplying the number of coils you use, you can make more nicotine available - it requires that each coil is being driven at the same wattage (power, actually, but it'll do) as it would be as a single coil, so if your single coil was running at 15 watts, the octocoil device would need to be at 8x15=120 watts in order to get close to an eightfold increase in nicotine availability.
And, in practice, that's pretty much what occurs. The more coils and power, the greater the availability of nicotine. Now, how it's absorbed is another question, and we're going to need someone like Lynne Dawkins or Konstantinos Farsalinos to do some applied research to answer that one.
So, Philip Morris has launched IQOS into the UK (London for the moment, which is why I haven't got one in my hands right this very second). For those of you who don't know, IQOS is a "heat not burn" product - you, basically, slip a miniature tobacco stick, complete with filter, into a battery powered heating unit, and drag on it ,much as you would an exit or a fag. It's not rocket science for the user.
Not unnaturally, this launch has attracted a bit of publicity, not least because spokespeople for PM have intimated that, should IQOS technology prove to be popular enough, they may well look towards ceasing production of combustible cigarettes altogether.
Yes, you read that correctly. PMI could, in the future, subject to the right market conditions, stop making fags. They've even said they're looking to working with Government to make that a reality.
Now, if I was heading up an anti-smoking charity (which I'm not), I'd be happy as a pig in shit at that news. I'd be grabbing all my minions and despatching them to the Dept. of Health and various other top level bodies and doing my level best to, as Jean-Luc Picard would say, "make it so".
Cos that's what anti-smoking bodies and charities ought to be about, isn't it?
But no. No. "We don't trust the tobacco companies." "We're not in the business of promoting tobacco products" (which is, actually, very much missing the point - that the IQOS has tobacco in it is entirely specious to the argument - it can be demonstrated to be of much lower risk than smoking, so they SHOULD be promoting such things. You know, like they do with ecigs. Oh... wait...)
They're screaming for independent research into the risk profile. Here's an idea. They leech public money - yes, WE fund them - so let THEM, in the public interest (which it undeniably is) fund the research. Let THEM actually use the money they trough from the public coffers for a good purpose - get it given to an independent and unbiased lab to replicate the studies and confirm or deny the claims.
And when the risk profile is shown to be lower - much lower, I suspect - than combustibles, let them stop being haters in chief on the tobacco companies and actually start considering doping what they should have been doing all along - and that's fighting against the actual diseases they claim are caused by combustibles, and not fighting against the users of such products.
Just a thought.
I do, sometimes, despair of the "logic" espoused by those who would guide us. They're either incredibly thick, or disingenuous. What they aren't, is consistent. Come and play Acronym Bingo for a while...Read More
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".Read More
Yet again, we see ecig supporting anti-tobacco folks losing perspective - and it won't help.
Apparently there have been calls - with, it says 'ere, support from "the public" to "voluntarily ban" (no idea - you work it out - it's either a ban or it isn't) smoking from children's playgrounds, zoos, theme parks and so on. As discussions appear about it on Twitter, the motives behind the call become more and more clear.
It's about "denormalisation", it seems.
Now, lest you know not what that means, when Tobacco Controllers use the term, what they really mean is "stigmatisation". Part of their playbook is to "make smoking seem less normal". They do this by making it very difficult for a smoker to light up anywhere where they're going to be seen. Well, that's their aim. In the same breath, however, they speak their support for indoor smoking bans, and forcing smokers out into whatever the weather throws down that day in order to enjoy a few drags.
In effect, then, and certainly in cities (you know, places with dense populations (no jokes at the back there)), they throw folks out from adult places where kiddies aren't allowed (or welcomed, in my own case) into the streets where kiddies are passing by all the time, thereby making it seem very normal (as it indeed is) to see crowds of folks stood together creating a nice blue fug and enjoying each other's company. It's otherwise known as shooting yourself in the foot, something TC does very well and very often.
Because it was never about protecting the health of the staff in adult venues (a fair of percentage of whom smoked anyway).
But now, of course, they don't just want to throw folks out. They want to, basically, prevent the cheeeeldrenz from ever seeing anyone smoke at all. Because that, to them "normalises" something that has always been normal. And, you see, their definition of "normal" changes to suit their agenda. They'll move stats around in order to change it, at the drop of a hat, depending on what they're talking about. And then, if it's politically correct, they'll say "that's not normal". Or, depending on the agenda, "that's perfectly normal". I could give an example here, but I'm not going to. Let's just say that when it comes to inclusivity, if they don't like what you are or do, or, more importantly, if they can't derive some advantage from supporting you, you are to be included out!
And it's that notion of supporting stuff that's causing me to become a tad agitated. An otherwise seemingly sensible director of Public Health who has very loudly professed and confessed his support for ecigs also supports this anti-smoker notion. His idea (well, probably not his, but it's one he espouses) is that putting these bans (voluntary or otherwise) in place will force people onto ecigs. There are two major errors in this thinking.
First, anyone who thinks they won't go after a public vaping ban once they've got the smoker numbers down is living in cloud cuckoo land. Of course they will - what used to be anti-tobacco is rapidly moving towards anti-nicotine, largely fuelled, in this humble writer's opinion, by the Pharmaceutical Companies having realised that it's an effective palliative (if not a cure) for a number of debilitating afflictions. And they want the patents on the remedies.
The second is thinking that smokers will respond to this pressure in the way he - and other tobacco controlllers - thinks they will. And, of course, they won't. For many years, the smoking prevalence in the UK was stuck at around the 20% mark. Yes, it edged downwards, but, until ecigs came along, resolutely refused to drop below it. Now, roughly five years after ecigs hit mainstream, we're at 16.8% prevalence. Anyone, ANYONE, who refuses to see the root cause of this drop is either, again, deluded, or is an inveterate liar.
In other words, all the sticks they used to beat smokers with failed miserably. The major success came because of the carrot that ecigs represent. The Pleasure Principle kicked in and lo and behold, what TC had been trying for and failing at suddenly happens.
What "they" need is patience. Promote and support ecigs unconditionally, and the industry will continue to come up with more and more pleasurable and effective devices and liquids, so much so that the vast majority of folks will so much prefer them to smoking that smoking will simply be forgotten in a generation or three. Organically. By choice. Without any sticks.
It's not exactly hard to understand, is it?
I feel the need to brain dump. Do forgive!
There's all kinds of stuff floating about at the moment, and some of it is making me feel uneasy. Uneasy, because, for six years, at least, I have been fighting for the freedom to vape as one sees fit. In last Monday's VTTV show, I made a statement. It went like this:
"I don't care what you vape, how you vape, or why you vape, you're a vaper. I don't care what resistance your coil is, how big your cloud is, or what device you use, you're a vaper". I stand by that, but I think I may need to add a little so folks properly get it.
Ecigs are, for me, an alternative to smoking. They are not for "quitting" with - that is NRT or the execrable varenicline or champix as we know it in the UK. Neither are they "smoking" per se - given that smoking involves combustion, and, if we are to believe what we're told, now claims the early demise of 2 out of every 3 users (up from the 1 in two of last year's Tobacco Control Propaganda).
No, they are neither of those things. They are a third thing, with multiple descriptions:
1. They CAN be a quit device - if they have received a medicinal marketing authorisation, and are prescribed/recommended by stop smoking "experts" because the folks who have properly ASKED for help have asked to go down that route. IN other words, NRT. And if used as NRT, quite probably just as effective (/sarcasm). BUT, they should not be given out free of charge.
2. They ARE an alternative way to "smoke" - if that's how you see it. And plenty of folks do - I meet vapers every day who will tell you they "smoke" an ecig. They see themselves as smokers, they even go out to the smoking sheds and hang with their smoking mates, they just enjoy ecigs more and accept the "smoker" stigma - because they're just happy that way. The Pleasure Principle in action. In Public Health terms, though, they're NOT smokers.
3. They ARE an alternative to smoking. This is THE most important and accurate (in my mind) descriptor. Buckle up - here we go:
For aeons, human beings have utilised plant-derived substances to make their daily grind more pleasurable - in the South Americas, thay may be the leaves of the Coca plant, which are chewed as a stimulant (and refined by western cultures into cocaine, or Colombian Marching Powder). Unsurprisingly, the cultures that do this are somewhat shocked that it's illegal over here in the "civilized" world. For them it's part of their day. And then there's coffee. Folks worldwide drink the stuff, same as with tea. In fact both plant derived substances have massive businesses built around them. Some folks even chase civets around to pick their poop up for particularly pungent coffee making beans. Does any given a hoot?
We imported tobacco use into our culture(s) centuries ago. The thing is, we only invented cigarettes well under 150 years ago. Prior to that, that didn't exist. Now, I don't know why there's so much opposition to people smoking cigarettes - my take on it is simple, really. If you're in full possession of the facts on the risks and benefits and choose to do something, then that's your business. Nobody else's. So I'm good with it.
However, as I've often said before, if there's a less risky way to do something, and you fancy having a go at it, then that, also, is fine by me. That, then, would be the alternative to smoking.
And people have to got to acknowledge some truths about it.
1: People who have never smoked are going to have a go. Some will continue, some won't.
2: Very, very few will ever, following having had a go, move to smoking lit tobacco. Indeed, vaping could (and probably should) substitute for smoking entirely. That is to say that, if every person over the age of <put an arbitrary number in here, you might as well, because age restrictions are bullshit and easy to bypass> years were to take up vaping, there'd still be a public health gain - even Simon Chapman implicitly acknowledges that. There'd be a gain (again , you have to buy into the TC propaganda) because ecigs are highly unlikely to carry more than 1% of the risk of smoking - and the risks they do carry are not health risks per se, so we could wave bye-bye to lung cancer, COPD, cancer of the pancreas and so on and so on and so forth (remember the TC propaganda I mentioned? Insert your own beliefs here). Oh - add house fires to that. Just don't buy a Samsung Galaxy phone.
3: There'll still be a select (and, hopefully, rapidly diminishing) group of prohibitionist "refrain from everything because we say so" so-called "Public Health" grandees that will fight ecigs every step of the way. They'll much prefer that ecigs are seen in a medicinal light, who will not accept that, as an alternative to smoking, ecigs could, indeed, achieve what their pathetic real-life trolling of smokers has singularly failed to do. And that is so annoying for them, because it shows them up for what they are. Interfering busybodies so concerned with controlling other people that their own weight balloons and their empathy disappears.
So, to sum up, before you get bored.
1: ecigs are not, have never been and should never be a medicine. They cure nothing.
2: ecigs ARE an alternative to smoking that should be available to everyone, on their own terms.
3: ecigs ARE NOT a tool for public health types to use to control us, the citizens of the world.
Too libertarian? You've seen nothing yet.
While I really do like that we have had two very good news stories today, I'm still a tad frustrated, and here's why.
To me, they're indicative of the "We told you so" moment, and that is, frankly, fabulous. But I'll tell you what unnerved me when I read it. It dawned on me, as I ran through the study, that this was very, very "ecigs as NRT" based. And I do not like that at all.
As you get further on in the narrative, you discover that, although the headline writers have trumpeted the "18,000 extra quitters due to ecigs" line, that's a figure that has been derived using the notion that two thirds of quitters relapse. (And that's being optimistic - as we know, NRT is way less than 10% successful over a 12 month period).
If you're a vaper, or know one, who has been vaping a while - and I'm talking, in my case, about over seven years - then you'll know that someone who has switched to ecigs, rather than used them to "make a quit attempt" doesn't "relapse". There's nothing to "relapse" to - because they haven't quit - that is, they haven't become nicotine abstinent. Very few fully switched vapers ever go back to smoking cigarettes, unless their ill-advised governments decide to ban ecigs and impose draconian fines and imprisonment - but that's a side issue here.
No, the bottom line is simple. Someone who replaces smoking with an ecig isn't likely to relapse. But someone who uses ecigs as NRT is, basically, just using a nicer, and probably more effective (60% or so) for of NRT - and, as the study points out, people DO relapse from NRT.
Now, look, I'm sure as I can be that the medics and Public Health folks are very pleased with the results of this study. And I'm sure that a whole raft of what have been referred to as "born again" vaping types will also be well chuffed. But I'm frustrated as all hell. Because, yet again, the establishment is forgetting that there is such a thing as the Pleasure Principle. That ecigs are NOT a bloody medicine, and to treat them as one, as in this case, is doing them a dis-service.
And, yes, I know I keep banging on about this. And I'll keep on banging on about it, and I'll tell you why.
In less than two months, those awfully nice people at the FCTC are going to make pronouncements on ecigs, and we all know what they're going to try to do. In amongst all of their wibble, they do keep mentioning that if ecigs were medicinally licensed, they'd be OK with it, translating their wibble into proper language. That's because their paymasters, the Pharmaceutical industry, would be able to walk in and clean up, in my view (my honestly held opinion, that is, libel lawyers please note). And, guess what? Every time there's a study like this, based on the medicinal usage of ecigs as just another form of NRT, it gives the FCTC and its COPs more ammunition.
And I don't think that's a good thing.
In short, I think we do know enough to be able to say that ecigs are safe enough to take them off the leash and allow them to flourish. And yes, whether other folks like it or not, I also think that if we did exactly that, then traditional smoking of lit tobacco would be counting its days - and that's not because it's something I want to see, but because, frankly, it makes sense!
Let's face it - think of any activity you've always wanted to try, but didn't because it was just too risky. If there was a way of trying said activity with less than five percent of the risk, you'd more than likely have a go, wouldn't you? That way, you'd find out whether you liked it or not, and could then make an informed choice. BUT... the likelihood of you then deciding to go the twenty or more times more risky route would be massively low.
And so it is with ecigs, in my view. Yes, folks who have never smoked are going to take them up and try them - it would be disingenuous to say otherwise, and it's something we have to acknowledge - but, if they're safe enough, I don't see that as a problem. If they're unlikely to take what some see as "the next step", then neither is that a problem. I'm good with it.
But this is markedly different from viewing ecigs as just a fancy schmancy new form of NRT.
This post is likely to piss a few folks off. Well, I'll have to live with that, but it would be dishonest of me not to make my feelings plain on this.
So, yes, I wlecome the "we told you so" moment, but I'm worried about implications going forward.
Guess who's fed up of the "evangelical, born again" taunts that are flung about from certain quarters
First up, and before we get into the meat, a précis of "my story". I never, ever wanted to pack in smoking. The propaganda got me to give it a go once, in the eighties, and I managed a week before I went back to being happy. I didn't want to do that, but I felt forced into it. Worthy of note.
When Ecigs came into my life - purely accidentally, as a mate came into my studio using one, and I tried and liked it, and saw a way to "smoke" indoors without getting into bother - it wasn';t because I was seeking to "be free of cigarettes". I didn't want to "be free of cigarettes" . As it turned out, I ended up switching entirely to ecigs because - and this is vitally important - I liked them (and still do like them) more than I liked smoking.
That seems to be a hard concept for some folks to grasp. It's pretty much like changing your brand of, say, breakfast cereal. If you don't like the new one, you'll go back to the old one. If you find one you like better, you'll stick with it. If the new one happens to be "better for you" than the old one, then that's a bit of a bonus. If it's also cheaper, then get the flags out - it's a pure win!
But do you go evangelising your new cereal to all and sundry, telling everyone they ought to drop their beetawix in the bin and go for the shreddopops because <insert whatever reasons you're being evangelical for>? Do you hell as like.
You may mention that you've found a new cereal and it's really nice, but you don't keep going on and one and on about it.
Well, I'm the same with ecigs. Bottom line, I like them, I prefer them to smoking, they're cheaper for me, and I suspect they may not be as risky as we're told fags are. And please note that "as we're told fags are", because, given that I've found out just how much Tobacco Control is prepared to lie, I will never, ever take anything they say at face value ever again.
Do I go out to convert folks? No. If you follow me on Twitter, or if we're friends on Facebook, then you'll note I rarely, if ever, join in on the vaperversary stuff that happens. You switched. Good for you. I've got mates who are dual users. Do I berate them for not being fully switched? No, and not just because I want to keep them as mates, but also because, frankly, what they do with ecigs, fags, motorbikes, melons or strangely shaped candles is entirely their business, and none of mine. It's just a bit of a crying shame that other folks - OK, Tobacco Control - can't take the same attitude.
Does that mean I fight the tobacco companies' corner? No, it doesn't. I owe them nothing, I have no loyalty to them. But I do rail against what I see as being unreasonable behaviour when it comes to governments and - you guessed it - Tobacco Control - constantly discriminating against them. So the whole plain packs nonsense is just that - nonsense. Sin taxes are, in my mind, despicable - they're not a tax on the companies (and neither is that levy ASH is so keen on) - they're designed to force people to conform to a blueprint that nannies want. And that's just wrong.
When I'm doing what I do with the NNA, or when I'm called on to speak with legislaters, I know that what are probably quite libertarian principles are less likely to achieve what we want than other tactics. So, sometimes I'm going to come across as maybe a bit born again. As in "this is why what you're proposing is going to be bad for public health".
So, yes, I do get fed up with certain folks constantly chucking this "Evangelist anti-smoker vaper advocate" line. On the whole, we're not. We're trying to get the best deal possible for vapers and vaping. Unpaid (in the UK).
In fact it costs me to do what I do.
So I get to say this.
If you don't like it, either STFU or, in delicate terms, go forth and multiply (that's the polite phrase for "FUCK OFF").
I've been taken by Linda Bauld's metaphor of the little Dutch boy. Here's what I think we need...
We all know the mythic story of the little Dutch boy, don't we? Long story short, he spotted a leak in a dam wall, shoved his finger in it, and then the big folks came along and sorted the potentially disastrous leak out properly, permanently and for ever by doing the right kind of building-y things (the kind of stuff a mechanical engineer ought to know about).
Well, Linda replied to Clive Bates's impressively penned piece (aren't they all?) on this whole aortic stiffness study crap and used the metaphor, saying we need more fingers.
And yes, we do, but we can't wait much longer for the big folks to come along and sort it out properly, permanently and for ever.
The biggest problem we have with ecigs and their uptake (which, frankly, is a good thing no matter what the new user's background might be, given that they're a locked sealed vault door blocking the passage to smoked lit tobacco) is the massive quantity of misinformation about them, which leads to folks believing they're as bad as, if not worse than smoking fags. This is the major roadblock. But why do folks think like that? Why do the majority think ecigs are at least as bad as fags?
Here's just a few of the many reasons:
- The CMO is a disingenuous charlatan.
She went on the telly box at prime time and told everyone that ecigs would give you popcorn lung. That's the message they heard. How do I know? Because folks who don't use ecigs constantly tell me "those things will give you popcorn lung" just before they light their fags. Well done Sally.
- The papers keep printing shite.
You've just got to look at Tuesday's Sun (frankly not worth using even as toilet roll, but shed loads of people read it, although goodness only knows why). "Ecigs as bad as fags". Yeah, right. All those Sun readers now have another stick with which to beat vapers over the head. "It was in the papers, so it must be true". Uh-huh
- The Department of Health and MHRA managed to sign us up full tilt into the Tobacco Products Directive, and even though they've been as light touch as possible, folks still see that these things are so dangerous that they have to be regulated like tobacco. How do I know this? Because they tell me so. "Well, Dave, I know you think they're great and fine and safe enough, but if they were, there wouldn't need to be all these rules from Europe about them, would there? I mean, they must be as bad as fags if they're in the same set of rules". Sound familiar?
- The BMA keeps spouting shite.
I've lost count of the number of times folks who ought to have at least three functioning brain cells have quoted the BMA at me, saying "They're doctors, they ought to know - those things are bad for you". Some of them are even doctors - you know, proper MDs - but they don't do doctory things. They've become thought leaders and public health leaders - which brings me to...
- Public Health keeps echoing all the shite from the above points.
And they do. They can't help themselves. Not all of the PH bods, obviously, but enough with loud enough voices that it's damned near impossible for we proles to publicly shout them down.
The bottom line is this. As ecig activists, we "normal people" have little in the way of a voice. The NNA, of which I'm proud to be a part, does much good work behind the scenes (and gets the piss taken out of it by folks who really ought to know better), but doesn't have the clout it needs (or, frankly, the money and resources) to get the same sort of telly time as the CMO, BMA DoH, MHRA and PH in general in order to reassure people.
Yes, people like Linda Bauld, Marcus Munafo, Clive Bates, Gerry Stimson, Chris Russell, Konstantinos Farsalinos, Jacques Le Houesec and a small number of others do keep sticking their fingers in the dam. But where the hell are the big boys?
Here's what needs to happen. CRUK, ASH (all of them), RCP, PHE and FRESH (and all of the other alphabet orgs) need to pressure the Department of Health and our government in general to do the following:
1. Get rid of every aspect of Article 20 from UK law, as it is currently enacted in the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR). And do it now. Not later, NOW
2. Make a massive song and dance about it. Get big hitters on the telly and radio telling the world that enough is enough, we've finally taken the decision to ignore the denialists like McKee and Chapman, and their arse-lickers in Public Health in the UK and get 100% behind ecigs, because, for goodness' sake, they are safe enough, don't need draconian regulation, and we want to see them thrive.
3. Sit down with the NNA, IBVTA, ECITA and others and work out what the minimum is with regard to regulation (I'd suggest a blacklist on certain substances in eliquid is all that's actually needed), and them implement that, and, again, make a doing and dance about it.
4. While this is happening, put 10 million quid into a mass media campaign telling everyone, repeatedly, that ecigs are OK, they're safe enough, and any scare stories in the papers are a farago of lies and propaganda. And announce that they'll take any paper that prints shite like that through IPSO and the courts and impose financial penalties on them.
If the above named orgs actually do believe that ecigs are a good thing, they need to do this, back this and make this happen. No excuses, no ifs or buts. This isn't rocket science. They need to divorce themselves from any Pharma interventions. As far as ASH is concerned, if they cannot see that these actions I've outlined will have the very positive effect of actually doing their job for them, then they should be de-funded and abolished, because they're patently incapable of seeing logic and are working to ideology. The same applies to all the other orgs, as well.
To be honest, I've had enough of the mealy-mouthed "Well, yes ecigs are good BUT" rhetoric. I'm fed up of constantly firefighting the shite that comes out of Glantzianism stables of propaganda and denialism. There's a small number of us (in absolute terms) that have dedicated our lives to fighting this battle, and we've been patted on the head and told it'll all work out in the end.
Well, the end needs to be before the end of 2016. This needs to happen, and it needs to happen now. No more platitudes, it's time for the big folks to put their money where their mouths are and stand with vapers 100%. Nothing else will suffice.