I know, another post about vaping, but some things need to be said. Sorry.
One, the reaction to the FDA regulations on e-cigarettes (which won't come into force for two years) has been hysterical and over-wrought.
Some vapers have even been tweeting that they will forced to go back to smoking. What nonsense.
Thankfully the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) slept on the FDA's announcement (as I suggested vapers should) and last night posted a reasoned evaluation (FDA Deeming Regulations: Release and Next Steps) that includes this important comment:
"Vaping as we know it will continue and we are not done by any means. Keep calm."
This echoes what Forest keeps saying in relation to smoking. OK, so we lose menthol cigarettes (in 2020). It's regrettable, obviously, for those who like the flavour of menthol cigarettes, and for those of us who believe in consumer choice I'd go so far as to say it's outrageous.
Likewise the directive to ban packs with fewer than 20 cigarettes and smaller pouches of rolling tobacco. But smoking as we know it will continue and we are not done by any means. So keep calm.
Two, following the FDA announcement on Thursday a number of vapers, including some of the leading advocates, have been 'congratulating' the tobacco industry, albeit in an ironic way.
A typical tweet read:
I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Tobacco Industry for the market it will own in 2yrs.
As a supporter of harm reduction and consumer choice I too am concerned that the FDA regulations will force out of business some of the smaller e-cigarette manufacturers.
But have faith. If there is sufficient demand the market will do its best to meet it.
What annoys me is that many ex-smoking vapers seem to think that if it's a Big Tobacco product it must be rubbish because the tobacco industry doesn't understand what vapers want.
I'd take issue with that. Does anyone really believe, with the money they're spending on the development of 'emerging products', that the tobacco companies aren't conducting research into what smokers and vapers actually want?
How do you think the most successful companies survive? They do it by changing their products in accordance with public demand. Look at Coca-Cola and the range of products they offer.
Three, what the most vociferous vapers have to understand is they are in a minority, a minority whose choices must be recognised and defended, but a minority nonetheless.
And I don't just mean a minority of the population. I mean a minority among vapers.
For them vaping is a hobby. They love the paraphernalia, the gizmos and the camaraderie. I understand that.
H/T, btw, to the person who drew my attention to the fact that vaping is a hobby while smoking is a habit. I can't remember who it was but it's a good point.
It's only half the story though because vaping is a hobby only for a minority of vapers. For others it's primarily a smoking cessation tool and for the rest it's a habit just like smoking.
Furthermore the majority of vapers are dual users not evangelical ex-smokers. They smoke and they vape. Some may be on the path to quitting smoking altogether but most haven't got there yet and they may not want to.
Like it or not a lot of smokers and dual users enjoy smoking and don't want to quit. Hard to imagine if you're an ex-smoking vaper who's seen the light but it's true.
Four, I'm delighted for you if you've chosen to quit tobacco and enjoy vaping as an alternative to smoking. It's wonderful that you are enjoying the 'freedom' from your 'addiction' to smoking and getting pleasure from your electronic gizmo. I get that too.
But the suggestion that vapers should be actively enlisted in the fight against smoking is abhorrent. This isn't a public health issue, it's a private issue.
Enjoy vaping (a habit or hobby I'll defend to the hilt) but unless a smoker asks for advice or information about e-cigarettes leave them alone. It's none of your business if they continue to smoke.
In particular stop the nonsense that you're part of a crusade to save a billion lives. This World Health Organisation figure is a wild estimate of the lives saved if everyone stopped smoking over the next century.
By repeating it you're regurgitating baseless propaganda that is being used to harass smokers throughout the world. Who you do think you are – tobacco control?
Five, it was brought to my attention this week that Conservative MP Anne Main has sponsored an Early Day Motion (EDM) on e-cigarettes. It reads:
That this House agrees with the Royal College of Physicians that it is crucial that e-cigarettes are priced as advantageously as possible in relation to tobacco; believes that the EU Tobacco Products Directive would significantly inhibit the development and use of harm-reduction products by smokers and cost lives; further agrees with Public Health England that e-cigarettes are around 95 per cent less harmful than smoking, and that nearly half the population does not realise that e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking; further believes that restricting advertising will have the perverse effect of reducing the rate at which cigarette use is declining; notes that the total cost of smoking to society, including healthcare, social care, lost productivity, litter and fires, was conservatively estimated by Action on Smoking and Health to be around £14 billion per year; and calls on the Government to exclude e-cigarettes and other harm-reduction products from the Tobacco Products Directive.
Main's EDM prompted an interesting discussion on Twitter between vapers who are delighted at this development (they obviously don't know the real worth of EDMs) and others who took umbrage – rightly – at the use of ASH propaganda to further the cause of vaping.
I've commented before about advocates of vaping embracing junk science and other tobacco control propaganda about smoking then complaining bitterly when politicians and public health campaigners use junk science against e-cigarettes.
The hypocrisy is sickening but I know why they do it. This week, when it was pointed out on that the £14 billion estimate "is just bullshit propagated by the likes of ASH", one vaper (a leading advocate of e-cigarettes) responded, matter-of-factly:
"I understand that but will not cut off my nose to spite my face."
In other words, "I'm happy to throw smokers under the bus and endorse any old rubbish about smoking if it helps our cause."
That also explains the refusal by some vapers to condemn further anti-tobacco measures. I hope Forest is never so dumb-witted or unprincipled.
I was going to make a sixth point but I'll leave it there. This post is quite long enough and there's something else I want to write about.
It's about the A Billion Lives documentary. I'll publish it later.