Envy for the Enlightened Isles
A guest post from Norbert Zillatron
German vapers — at least those few that care about it — envy the UK for the open acknowledgement of PHE et al. Sure, we know that it’s far from perfect and a lot of the lot still can’t see vaping as anything but an improved kind of NRT. But that’s much better than what we have in Germany.
Vapers and Politics
It’s pretty much like everywhere else. The vast majority don’t care at all. They just found something they like and they buy it. They don’t bother with forums or additional information. As long as they’ll get their usual products.
Then there is the minuscule percentage who visit forums and social network groups or watch vaping videos on youtube. To most of them politics is far away and of no concern. They just want to enjoy their hobby.
Comments on the political development are usually along the lines “They can’t do that!”, “Just relax, it won’t be so bad!”, “Then I’ll buy in China.”, “My stockpile will last for years”.
Just a few vapers bother to really read what the bansturbators concoct and are often ridiculed as worrywarts. Including all those who only occasionally bother we are just a few dozens. We’re gonna see who’s right. I hope we worrywarts are wrong. But I’m afraid we’re still too optimistic.
Mass Media, Politicians, and Experts
This is where we German vapers are mired up to our necks in bovine excrement. There is one and only one ultimate “Expert” all mass media and politicians refer to: The Oracle of Heidelberg, Martina Pötschke-Langer. She’s the head of the WHO collaborators that have infested the German Center for Cancer Research (DKFZ). Dick Puddlecote has some strong words about her in “Meet Mendacious Martina”
When German mass media couldn’t simply ignore the Public Health England revolution, all articles about it were also brimming with her dire warnings about unknown hypothetical dangers that PHE might have failed to take into consideration. Her choice of words implies that all scientists supporting this report were clueless idiots. But she always is very careful to avoid any direct insult. It’s all in the mind of the reader.
Of course she pounced on the nutty letter in the Lancet and regurgitated it in many words, suggesting that the PHE report was corrupted by a BigTobacco and BigVapor conspiracy and thus is totally useless. That was the last headlines we heard about it. Chapter closed, evidence dismissed.
Even worse than this constant one-sided public propaganda is the way politicians of all parties keep bowing and scraping to her supposed wisdom. Any facts and arguments are countered with links to her dogmatic pamphlets. And–for the illusion of multiple sources–to the BfR, The Federal Institute for Risk assessment. Two birds of a feather. They often refer to each other’s opinion in argumentative incest.
Don’t let her innocent looks and displayed motherly concern fool you! She knows exactly what she’s doing and her propagandistic skills may even be sharper than those of the undisputed master from Germany’s darkest history. She studiously avoids telling any outright lie. She’s very apt at presenting the most absurd “theories” and visions of doom so that they sound like scientifically proven facts and real concerns. And of course she never forgets to rhetorically abuse “The Chiiiiildren”.
Professor Bernd Mayer from Austria commented on one of her pamphlets: “New Madness in Electronic Cigarette Policy …”. That was a year ago. Now she regurgitated the same “ideas” in a comment on the planned German implementation of the Tobacco tax Protection Directive.
She’s so successful in distorting reality that recently the German Minister for Youth, Family, etc. (Manuela Schwesig) said as one part of the justification for the proposed restrictive amendment of the youth protection laws: “Electronic cigarettes are just as harmful as smoking.”
That is exactly the impression this propaganda is supposed to generate. And it obviously works.
You can’t find any politician or prominent figure in the health business who dares contradict her. Behind this deceiving image mix of Mother Teresa and Buddha hides a nuclear-powered sledge hammer. Ready to vanquish any opposition. When the German vapers organisation (IG-ED) satirically presented her with an honor membership for all her help in getting vaping into the media, her immediate and only reaction was a very nasty letter from her shysters.
We (the IG-ED) were invited twice to speak at the Tobacco Control Conference she hosts. I think the first time she thought we would be the comical element on the panel. Besides the alibi “enemy” from the vendors association. That we would be like puppies overwhelmed by all the greatness. Tough luck. A lot of the audience had questions our speaker could answer far more competently than she or any of her cronies. The second time we were apparently invited as a tame enemy. Only we weren’t tame. We had tried long enough to reason with her. So it wasn’t quite unexpected that we didn’t get another invitation this year. But we were a bit surprised when an official representative of the IG-ED tried to register as regular audience and got a rejection notice signed by her personally. Telling us, that she doesn’t want to see the “ecigs lobby” there. Yes, truth can be painful. Avoidance is an easy way out. And it’s also a way to prevent exposure of her flimsy house of cards to a torrent of scientifically solid facts. In front of an impressionable audience who came looking for real information.
Recently she tried to prohibit a vape shop from using a quote made years ago. When she still did concede that “vaping of course is much, much less harmful than smoking”, she sued them for abuse of the trademark “DKFZ”. Fortunately she lost.
She will demolish any institution or person who gets in her way. By insinuating incompetence and possible corruption from the tobacco lobby. Never crossing the line of liability. If that isn’t enough deterrent, she also can rely on the power of the WHO to threaten even with UN sanctions.
And her pals from the BfR are just as bad. Professor Mayer wrote them an open letter criticising the junk science they published. They responded with a letter to his University suggesting his dismissal.
Implementation of the Tobacco tax Protection Directive
Lately we were able to have a peek at the plans of the German ministry. They don’t just want to do the TPD, dog’s breakfast that it already is. First they also want to skip any distinction between nicotine containing and nicotine free devices and liquids. And then they have a rather long list of prohibited flavours. Most most of their bans they simply copied from the ban list for tobacco products. And this list contains — besides a lot of chemicals of which I have no idea what flavours would be affected by their prohibition — all forms of menthol and one wholly outrageous category: “Substances which might create the impression they might be healthy”. Among those already in the list: Peppermint and woodruff. And they also include the right to expand this list without consulting the parliament (like in the infamous EU “delegated acts”).
But that’s just the first draft. Now it will have to pass through both “houses”. They probably will enter some modifications. But not necessarily for the better.
When MPs are asked about their position on ecigs their answers — if any — invariably refer to the pamphlets of the Oracle and her buddies in the BfR. And she keeps on lobbying massively for banning any flavours except tobacco. And also to make them as unappealing as possible by banning coloured devices. To “Save The Chiiildren!” of course. Those who are already “protected” from buying them anyway.
Petitions in Limbo
Similar to the petition to the UK government to refuse article 20, or to the US government to put the FDA in their place, we also have petitions to our government. My first attempt to get a petition published was rejected after 2 weeks. About six weeks ago I submitted a reworked version, where I eliminated all the causes given for the rejection. Its aim is to get a voice in as many parliamentary consultations as possible. At about the same time another vaper submitted his petition, similar to the UK petition it suggests that the german parliament refuses to implement article 20.
Both petitions are still in limbo. Neither publication nor rejection. Nothing.
Should they be published we would have 4 weeks to collect 50.000 signatures. Lucky for us, German petitions are more like the US petitions and unlike the UK version anybody all over the world may sign it. If we reach the goal we would have the chance to present our case personally.
But as time passes the suspicion is growing that somebody wants to delay us, so that even a successful petition would be essentially useless.
Some people still have confidence in the competence of the MPs. That they would listen and apply common sense. But I’m afraid this is just wishful thinking. I think the only ones motivated to change anything will be those devoted to prohibitionism. And the greedy ones. There are bound to be some that would like to follow the Finnish proposal. The vast majority of MPs just won’t care and sign anything their “experts” suggest. And those “experts” faithfully repeat the dogmata from Heidelberg.
I would love to be proven too pessimistic.
Maybe I’ll move to the UK.
To the Enlightened Isles,
where science still can prevail.
Note – All images are; created by, copyrighted to and used by permission of Hope. German Vapers Forum. 2015. http://www.e-rauchen-forum.de/thread-67084.html