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« Society loves to create a sinner | Main | Are we approaching peak vape? »

Tough love or knocking shop?

A comment on my previous post asked why I "keep knocking vaping advocates".

I replied but I thought I'd publish my response here as well (with some additional observations).

But first, let me introduce readers to Liam Bryan who asked the question.

Liam is a leading member of Vapers In Power which is registered as a political party. At the General Election last year he was one of two candidates who stood for ViP. He's also an associate of the New Nicotine Alliance.

Last year Liam invited me to address a handful of vapers outside the ViP tent at Vapefest in Shrewsbury. I was happy to do so.

I believe he was also the person responsible for amending the ViP manifesto to include a clause opposing outdoor smoking bans. It's worth reading partly because I've not seen anything like it on any other pro-vaping website.

The point is, Liam isn't one of those ex-smoking vapers who has turned his back on smokers so I'm sorry if he has taken my comments personally.

It's true of course that I have been a persistent critic of some vaping advocates but in my defence the term covers a wide field.

Some of the leading advocates are hard core tobacco control campaigners whose long-term goal is the eradication of, first, smoking, then all nicotine consumption.

Others are a bit more liberal on the issue of nicotine but are happy nevertheless to support severe restrictions on the use of tobacco and the further denormalisation of smokers.

Very few of these advocates see vaping as anything other than a smoking cessation aid. The idea that vaping might be a recreational activity in its own right is anathema to most of them.

There are of course other vaping advocates, ex-smokers like Liam, who remain supportive of the rights of smokers who don't want to quit, but they're in the minority, I think.

Most ex-smoking vapers are naturally enthusiastic about the harm reduction qualities of e-cigarettes, and I understand and respect that.

Sadly I've seen very little evidence to suggest they will lift even a finger in a dogfight over plain packaging, punitive tobacco duty or outdoor smoking bans and that's a pity.

It's human nature, I suppose, but it doesn't sit easily with many of us who have been fighting the denormalisation of smoking for years and believe that freedom of choice and personal responsibility are paramount and must be defended whatever the issue.

Anyway my previous post mentioned the pro-vaping documentary A Billion Lives and I think Liam felt my comments about the lack of support the film has received from the UK vaping community were a bit unfair, hence his "knocking" comment.

"We're just normal folk," he wrote, "generally doing a job and doing vaping stuff on the side, we aren't media experts."

Point taken, Liam, but you don't need to be an expert to help promote a small independent film. You just need to write, blog and tweet about it and generally spread the word.

When the opportunity to host a screening comes along it should be grabbed with both hands (unless there's a good reason not to). Anyone can register to host a screening of A Billion Lives. I've checked the procedure and it couldn't be easier.

It's worth noting that even the director - commenting on this blog - said he was "struck by the low level of support from some in the UK." Coming from the horse's mouth, that's pretty damning.

"If you really did stand for vapers," added Liam, "wouldn't you try to help us?"

Actually, as a non-vaping smokers' rights campaigner I think I've done my fair share to help vapers fight the threat of bans and other restrictions.

I've supported vaping in the press.

I've supported vaping on TV and radio.

I've written or approved Forest submissions to government and parliamentary committees that have opposed proposals to ban vaping in public places and prohibit e-cigarette advertising.

I've tried to engage with advocates of vaping. I've suggested meetings or invited them to Forest events.

One or two have welcomed our attempts at engagement, others have chosen to ignore them, but no-one can say we haven't tried.

We'll always support those who wish to vape because choice is part of Forest's DNA.

However, while our support for vaping as a lifestyle choice is unconditional, our support for every vaping advocate or campaign group isn't.

If anyone chooses to throw smokers under a bus to advance their cause, repeat misleading anti-tobacco propaganda, or promote e-cigarettes as a tool to ostracise smokers even further, they can expect fierce criticism.

Tough love, I think it's called.

PS. The following comment has appeared under my previous post. It was written by someone called 'John' who writes:

1 out of 2 smokers die a horrible death. Good luck with your love affair with smoking :(

I am a vaper and I know e cigs 95% safer then cigarettes. I no longer have a smokers cough, I don't get out breath when I walk at a brisk pace and my taste buds have flourished :)

If you think vaping is as bad for you as smoking then let's see who dies first, losers.

This is an extreme example but I've read the vaping forums and comments like this aren't unknown.

Sad, isn't it?

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Reader Comments (5)

As I said over at that post. If he is going to use anti-smoker propaganda to abuse smokers, he should at least get the lie right.

We are now told 2 in 3 smokers die. Vapers will, clearly, live forever and if they have enough faith, probably a few extra years after that ;(

Saturday, September 17, 2016 at 18:40 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

What a shame that Liam, as one of the more reasonable variety of vapers doesn't concentrate his attention on people like "John" who are doing an extremely good job of making all vapers (which will, sadly, include those like Liam) come across as intolerant, nasty pieces of work who don't care about anyone else's freedom, as long as their own is protected. Nice.

And I do think it's a bit unfair for Liam to criticise you for "knocking vapers" when only recently you came in for quite a lot of stick from some other members of the vaping community for giving a (naturally supportive) comment about vaping when asked, because they felt that you, representing Forest, had no place giving comments about vaping - not even supportive ones.

It's good to know that Liam is one of the few good vapers, but he and his ilk really do need to look inside their organisations to bring to heel those who are doing it no favours before they start doling out the slightly resentful criticisms towards people on the outside. Because, to be frank, your own tactful and supportive comments about vaping are doing the whole vaping movement a darned sight more good than are the spiteful little jibes which emanate all too frequently from within the vaping community.

Sunday, September 18, 2016 at 1:11 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

"There are of course other vaping advocates, ex-smokers like Liam, who remain supportive of the rights of smokers who don't want to quit, but they're in the minority, I think."

Well, that pretty much describes me in a nutshell. Ultimately though, it's better to have a few real friends in this world than a million fair weathered acquaintances.

Sunday, September 18, 2016 at 5:04 | Unregistered Commenterjredheadgirl

Not when that fairweather million abuse and use you to gain more for themselves.

Sunday, September 18, 2016 at 12:37 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

"Not when that fairweather million abuse and use you to gain more for themselves."

And when the few real friends don't actually - err, well, how do I say this as tactfully as possible? - do, really, very much to stop them ....

Monday, September 19, 2016 at 1:53 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

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