"There is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape." Never?
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 9:50
Simon Clark

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The word 'sell' has been replaced by 'market' so it now reads: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

Article originally appeared on Simon Clark (http://taking-liberties.squarespace.com/).
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