Road To Ruin?

Search This Site
The Pleasure of Smoking

Forest Polling Report

Outdoor Smoking Bans

Plain Packaging

Share This Page
Powered by Squarespace
« From Galway to Dublin via Waterford, Clonmel and Tralee | Main | How the IBVTA shot itself in the foot »

"There is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape." Never?

Further to yesterday's post Dick Puddlecote reports that the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) has amended its code of conduct.

As I wrote yesterday one point previously read:

"Vape products are for current or former smokers and existing users of vaping devices, therefore [you should] never knowingly sell to anyone who is not a current or former smoker, or a current vaper."

The word 'sell' has been replaced by 'market' so it now reads:

"Vape products are for current or former smokers and existing users of vaping devices, therefore [you should] never knowingly market to anyone who is not a current or former smoker, or a current vaper."

Credit to the IBVTA for responding quickly to widespread criticism of this section of its code and making the necessary adjustment.

The bad news is that, like many vaping advocacy groups, they continue to insist that:

"There is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape."

They just don't get it, do they? Setting aside the fact that many smokers live long and healthy lives, smoking is not just about health. A great many people smoke because they enjoy it.

Pleasure brings its own benefits. David Hockney, 80 this year, is on record saying that smoking is good for his mental health.

Smoking works for him. I don't know why, I'm not an expert. It just does, and there are millions more like him.

Imagine saying "There is never a situation where it is better to eat a jam doughnut (or a hot cross bun) than it is to eat a cereal bar or a bowl of muesli."

Sometimes you need comfort food. For many smokers a cigarette is precisely that.

Yesterday the Telegraph reported that:

A hospital in Denmark has released a photograph of a patient fulfilling his dying wish – enjoying a cigarette and a glass of white wine while viewing the sunset from a hospital balcony ...

Although the hospital has a no smoking policy, an exception was granted for Mr Hansen, whose bed was wheeled out to the balcony for him to have a final drink and smoke while admiring a beautiful sunset.

Apart from the fact that this story demonstrates far more compassion than NHS administrators show to smokers, it also refutes the claim that "There is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape."

OK, this was an exceptional situation but the point – as The Pleasure of Smoking report by the Centre for Substance Use Research makes clear – is that many smokers take pleasure from smoking in a way they don't from vaping, not yet anyway.

To ignore the importance of pleasure and individual choice in favour of bland statements like "There is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape" is to ignore why so many smokers continue to smoke despite the well-publicised health risks.

It also underlines the arrogance that threatens to undermine the vaping industry because there are few consumers, in my experience, who like being lectured in such dogmatic terms.

There is a lot to commend e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products. But a little humility and a greater understanding of why confirmed smokers continue to smoke wouldn't go amiss.

Perhaps the IBVTA should invite Dr Neil McKeganey, lead author of The Pleasure of Smoking and director of the Centre for Substance Use Research, to address one of their meetings.

At the very least they should read his report.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (16)

If Dr Neil McKeganeys report is available freely, could you provide a link. I would quite like to read it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 10:25 | Unregistered CommenterThomas Gleeson

Thomas, the link is in the post. Alternatively you can click on the cover image at the top of the column on the right of this page.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 10:40 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Vapers lost when they tacitly agreed with Tobacco Control that the only important plant chemical in tobacco smoke was the nicotine.

Though you as a non smoker, Simon, will continue to enjoy the benefits of solanesol in a small way if you eat up your nightshade vegetables.

Isn't real plant science great?


Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 10:42 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

There is something disturbing about this, something more subtle. I think it has to do with the tendency of industry to align themselves with regulators. Institutions have an affinity for other institutions, not for consumers (see also: United Airlines + cops vs. passengers). "Big tobacco" (sarcasm) works hand-in-glove with tobacco control; the useful idiots in TC think otherwise, but the industry and the TC puppet masters obviously know it.

What seems particularly sad here is that ecig companies have intentionally accelerated this process. They are not yet big institutions that naturally relate only to other oligarchs. But here they are trying to force that degeneracy forward. The original bit they changed was one example, but so was what they changed it to. The passage you identify here is another example. The document cannot be copy edited to fix it because an attempt to ally with TC is built into it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 12:43 | Unregistered CommenterCarl V Phillips

There is an assumption among vapers that vaping is not only superior to smoking, but that the certainty of health benefits is unassailable.

I ventured onto Twitter yesterday, and my Twitterfeed was awash with photos of people holding up signs with "my name is ----" and "I smoked for --- years", and "___ flavour helped me"; like so many perps lined up for a mug shot. All accompanied by the declaration "This is ---. He vapes and this is what helped him". It was quite sickening.

This is one I couldn't help responding to:

"Helped him what? Tobacco Control isn't interested. They hate vaping because it looks like smoking, and they hate smoking & smokers. End of."

I got the impression it was an attempt to veto restrictions on e-liquid flavours (I suppose on the presumption that candy flavoured liquids will have 'children' rioting in the streets to get their grubby little mitts on some), which is fair enough; no-one has the right to dictate what flavour e-liquid vapers want to use. But the whole thing came across as both asinine and a further capitulation to the anti-smoking narrative.

I'm starting to view the vaping movement in a distinctly negative light.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 13:33 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

Not seen anything in the media about this case/

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 13:43 | Unregistered Commentercrabtree

A hospital in Denmark has released a photograph of a patient fulfilling his dying wish – enjoying a cigarette and a glass of white wine while viewing the sunset from a hospital balcony

It reminded me of the old practice of giving a wounded soldier a cigarette to calm and comfort them.

Smoking may mimic effect of antidepressants
"In a new study Dr Gregory Ordway, professor of psychiatry at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and colleagues examined postmortem samples of locus caeruleus from the brains of seven people who had been heavy smokers and nine who had been non-smokers; all had been mentally healthy.

They found that the brains of long term smokers had neurochemical abnormalities similar to the brains of animals treated with antidepressant drugs (Archives of General Psychiatry 2001;58:821-7)."

It's a great pity that such a small and familiar comfort is now denied to so many.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 14:19 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

When a friend's mother in law died about 15 years ago, her last wish to have a cigarette was granted and she didn't have to go outside. I remember well the days when compassion and not smokerphobia ruled in our hospitals.

When she died in old age soon after, smoking was so much a part of her life that one wreath was made in the shape of a cigarette. We giggled at the time but now looking back it was fitting given that we now know some people identify as smokers rather than just people who smoke.

Vapers don't get it and that's their loss. They think by using the health argument they will win favour with public health. They won't because only public health can decide what is healthy however harmful that advice could be.

If vapers want to win they should align themselves with and become a partner with FOREST but of course they won't do that for fear of being seen as dirty filthy smokers. Public health sees them that way anyway but is happy to use them for the time being but it is a belief that nicotine is addictive that inspires public health to cleanse any soul who needs that awful drug.

In answer to the question, of course there is never a time when it's better to vape than smoke. Vaping is boring, unsatisfying and not enjoyable at all - unless one is an addict so whether vape, inhalator or nicotine gum makes no difference. 😉

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 14:58 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

As an "accidental" vaper, I do agree. The pleasure of vaping is different from the pleasure of smoking. I switched to vaping simply because I found that I can enjoy vaping more than I ever enjoyed smoking. That's all. It's my personal preference and choice. Other people, other tastes.

I do advocate vaping.
- To smokers, so that they do try for themselves. They may have an experience similar to mine. If they don't enjoy vaping like I do: fine, too. At least they know what it's like.
- To real scientists (major target group of my blog), so that they know the differences and can avoid basic mistakes.
- To politicians, in the (mostly in vain) hope, that they keep their addiction to regulatory power play in check. I don't want them to trample this pleasure like they did (and continue to do) to smoking.

I would love to also clean the political augean stables from all the tobacco control bovine excrement about smoking, but I'm no Hercules. And fighting against the new propaganda shit against vaping that keeps hitting the media fans is hard (and futile) enough. Attempting to also counter the decades of brain washing re smoking is way out of my league. So I limit my efforts to vaping. And just add a little Sancho Panza support to Don Quixote fighting the windmills of entrenched anti smoking preachers.

More details on how the rants of one Public Hell's expert bloke got me vaping in my blog: My Story

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 15:54 | Unregistered CommenterNorbert Zillatron

Both smoking and vaping are legitimate individual choices. It is not the place of government to dictate these choices or restrict access to information that facilitates choice.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 18:22 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

“To smokers, so that they do try for themselves”

Thanks for the suggestion, Norbert, but ... been there, done it. Horrible. Absolutely horrible on pretty much every level. Tasted vile, smelled vile, felt cumbersome and awkward, wasn’t even remotely satisfying and looked embarrassingly juvenile, like a kid “pretending” to smoke by “drawing” on a felt tip pen! I’ve tried several varieties and types, too, and they were all just as ghastly as each other, with some weird artificial fruit flavour of some kind (can't remember what it was - I've blanked it out of my memory!) being the worst of all.

And, if it doesn’t “work” for you, it’s a very expensive experiment, too! These gizmos aren’t cheap to get started on! Luckily, since the smoking ban I don’t get out and do half the things I used to, so my bank balance is more than healthy enough to cope. It doesn’t help that I find it physically uncomfortable to inhale steam (not just from vape-sticks - I used to have the same problem in a steam room at my local gym, those Vicks “steam bowls” that my mum used to try whenever we kids had a heavy cold never worked for me for the same reason, and I can even find it hard to breathe easily in very thick fog if I’m out walking in it, so it’s clearly an inherent “thing” in my physical makeup).

I’m just hoping that the new HNB devices coming out produce a lighter vapour than e-cigs do, because (if the tobacco companies - preferably not PM - would only get off their backsides and start selling them in more places), I’d definitely give them a go as an emergency standby for those times when smoking is absolutely impossible or the weather is truly vile, and an undetectable alternative (I understand that they don’t give off any odour at all, unlike e-cigs which leave a really lingering, distinctive pong behind them) is required for a swift bike-shed-style break!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 2:48 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

In have a HnB pipe that looks like a vape box Misty and even though the tobacco does smell as it burns, I can get away with using it by hiding behind vaping. If anyone asks, I say the smell is a type of e-liquid. For sure there isn't as much smoke as the vape though. It kinda gets lost in their clouds as does the smell.

I recommend this kind of protest to all smokers. Demand your right to social equality and take it if need be. This is one way that you can.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 13:26 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Thanks for the tip Pat. Where did you get it from? Absolutely none of the places I frequent, whether for cigarettes or not, seem to sell them. Even the much-talked-about IQOS (which I am reluctant to try, as it is made by the treacherous Philip Morris, even though it sounds like the best one for me!!) hasn't put in an appearance amongst all the e-cigs. Did you get yours off t'internet?

Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 3:20 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Misty, can you email me at and I'll send you the link.

Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 11:56 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Ok, we totally get the point, though in reality it's unlikely there's a situation where it's better to smoke than vape. We can always find exceptions to a generally accepted view but it would be a mistake to look at such statements as dogma. They are rather a refutation of the public health quit or die mantra. As far as I know, no vaper has any desire to encroach on anyone's freedom to choose & certainty the IBVTA don't appear to say that either, but when standing up & fighting for a cause this important, you have to set the general principles of you stall out. That doesn't mean rigid rules you don't review & amend if required. All in all, little to actually fuss about here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 13:22 | Unregistered CommenterNick Morris

Thanks, Nick, I appreciate the comment. You may be right about there being little to fuss about here but this is a blog, I'm trying to generate discussion/debate!

I'm also trying to encourage the vaping industry (which I support) to promote, first and foremost, the concept of choice without making disparaging comments about smoking and sometimes exaggerated claims about the impact of smoking on smokers and those around them. We get enough of that from tobacco control campaigners who, as I have said repeatedly on this blog, will not rest until all nicotine devices are restricted to a handful of consumers.

That's why I think we should be fighting together, not against one another, but it seems the vaping industry wants to distance itself from those who enjoy smoking (and don't want to quit) and ally itself, whereever possible, with public health. Understandable, perhaps, from a commercial viewpoint but frustrating to those of us who have been fighting intransigent and illiberal public health campaigners for more years than we care to remember.

Btw, are you Nick Morris, joint MD at Go Vapour UK?

Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 14:09 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>