All posts by fergusmason

Vapers in Power condemn doxing attacks on our party officers

Vapers in Power note with concern that our press officer, Martin Cullip, was recently the victim of a doxing attack initiated by a notorious public health activist. We find it extremely disturbing that this sort of harassment is apparently, judging by the lack of condemnation from the perpetrator’s colleagues, regarded as acceptable by many who claim to have the best interests of the public at heart.

For several years now Mr Cullip has written a very popular blog centred around libertarian and lifestyle topics; if you’re a vaper it’s very likely you’re familiar with it. However, you are probably not familiar with the name Martin Cullip. Like many bloggers he writes under a pen name to preserve a degree of privacy and anonymity, as is his right. Online, we can all use any identity we choose; if we prefer to keep our real identity private, this should be respected. Revealing someone’s personal details against their will – doxing – is rightly regarded as a form of cyber harassment and most decent people see it as unacceptable.

Sadly, many opponents of vaping can in no way be described as decent people. We regret to say that one of this disreputable crew, an Australian pensioner by the name of Simon Chapman, recently uncovered the link between Mr Cullip and his nom de plume and saw fit to broadcast it to his 9,800 Twitter followers. This was a gross, and completely unacceptable, invasion of Mr Cullip’s privacy.

ViP regret that unqualified people like Mr Chapman – a retired sociologist – are lobbying against our freedom to vape in the first place; we particularly regret that they are using such obnoxious and underhanded tactics to do so. Therefore we call on the public health industry to condemn behaviour such as that of Mr Chapman and to disassociate itself from extremists of his ilk. Public health have no right to criticise vapers and the vaping industry when they have so conspicuously failed to put their own house in order.

Advertisements

Vapers in Power responds to the RSPH

Yesterday the Royal Society for Public Health put out a press release and video based on an “undercover investigation” they had conducted into a sample of UK-based vape shops. To their apparent shock, RSPH found that nine in ten vape shops were “prepared” to sell products to non-smokers, and called for all retailers to adhere to a code of conduct released by the Independent British Vapour Trades Association.

In a ridiculously biased diatribe RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer railed against the use of e-cigarettes as a “lifestyle product” and insisted that they only be used as a quit aid for existing smokers. She then demanded that retailers interrogate their customers about their smoking behaviour, and only sell to those who Ms Cramer thinks should be using the products.

This sort of bossy, patronising attitude is wrong on so many levels that we barely know where to start. We could take a utilitarian approach, for example, and point out that it is actually a good thing if people who don’t smoke, but are tempted, take up vaping instead. We could remind Ms Cramer that more than 90% of the UK’s vape shops are not members of the IBVTA and so are under no obligation to obey its code of conduct (which, incidentally, we have serious issues with). We could approach it from a philosophical angle and question why Ms Cramer thinks she has a right to tell other people how to run their businesses. But we will not. We will simply remind Ms Cramer of the law.

The UK used to be a free country. At Vapers in Power we hope to see the day when it can be called one again. Therefore we will defend the freedom of every adult in the UK to buy vapour products if they so choose. This is what the law says, Ms Cramer. Your opinion and the IBVTA’s code of conduct are utterly irrelevant; anyone aged 18 or over is free to buy e-cigarettes because this is the law. If you don’t agree with the law then summon up the courage of your convictions, stand for election and try to have it changed. But if you’re not willing to do that, just shut up and leave us alone.

Our statement on the invocation of Article 50

Vapers in Power is a single issue party. Our only concern is to protect the freedom of vapers to buy the products they need, and to use them without undue restriction. Where we can we’ll help out anyone else who’s fighting to restore our diminishing freedoms, but we do not, and will not, take a position on most political issues.

With that said, we welcome the Prime Minister’s invocation of Article 50. Once EU law is no longer supreme we hope the government will swiftly move to repeal the Tobacco and Related Products Act 2016, the British implementation of the EU TPD, and replace it with a new law which is actually fit for purpose.

Despite being called the Tobacco Products Directive, most of the substantive legislation contained in the TPD is directed at electronic cigarettes. Sadly, this legislation is nothing short of atrocious – overbearing, authoritarian, scientifically unjustified and rammed through by inept politicians and vested interests.

A large amount of research was presented to the EU during the TPD process, much of it conducted by eminent British scientists. For reasons of its own the EU chose to ignore this research, and instead to be guided by alarmism, ignorance and falsehoods. For many vapers who followed this law’s progress through the EU’s institutions it was their first experience of how the EU worked, and we know that many of them were persuaded to vote for Brexit as a result.

In future the laws of the United Kingdom should be developed by the Government of the United Kingdom, in the interests of the British people. Today we congratulate the Prime Minister on taking the first step towards this goal, and ask her to make the repeal of the TPD an objective as we move forward.

Worrying behaviour by Action on Smoking and Health

Vapers in Power notes with concern – and disapproval – that Action on Smoking and Health continues to oppose the replacement of the EU’s inappropriate rules on electronic cigarettes with a new regulatory framework that’s actually fit for purpose. Despite repeated attempts to explain to ASH exactly why the TPD and its UK implementation are ill-advised and harmful restrictions based on misrepresented science, they persist in their support for it.

It should now be clear to everyone that ASH’s backing for the EU’s punitive approach to vaping is not merely down to a failure to understand the harm it causes. The reality is that ASH fully support this approach. They are not on our side; they simply view us as a convenient stick to beat the tobacco industry with. It goes without saying that people who do this are rarely worried about the welfare of the stick.

We note with even more concern that ASH’s chief executive, Deborah Arnott, sits at the centre of tobacco control in the UK and has a great deal of influence internationally. This is especially worrying in light of Ms Arnott’s well-known intolerance of disagreement.

Vaping advocates who have attempted to engage with ASH feel severely constrained in what they can say, out of fear that disagreeing too openly with Ms Arnott will result in their access to public health discussions being restricted. It is now clear that consumer advocates are not the only ones Arnott sees as legitimate targets for the application of pressure.

Yesterday Lisa McNally, a public health consultant with Bracknell Council, posted a tweet critical of the latest ASH anti-smoking campaign. Ms McNally is not an employee of ASH. She is under no obligation whatsoever to refrain from criticising a campaign run by a charity if she disagrees with that campaign. Nevertheless, this morning, she received an “angry call” from Arnott, who apparently feels entitled to harass public sector employees who displease her.

truemcnally-arnott-complaint

Given Arnott’s prominence in the tobacco control field, her extensive access to politicians and the substantial government funding she receives, this revelation of her methods should be of grave concern to every stakeholder in public health. How much opposition to harm reduction and proportionate legislation is driven, not by principle or objective study of the evidence, but by pressure applied behind the scenes by Arnott?

Vapers in Power call for a halt to all public funding of ASH, and the withdrawal of Deborah Arnott’s access to the Houses of Parliament and any parliamentary committee or working group, until proper mechanisms have been put in place to stop her harassing and bullying those who dare to disagree with her.

Please allow me to introduce myself…

…I’m a man of wealth and taste.

All right, most of you know me too well to believe that, but never mind. What I am is a dedicated vaper who wants to see the technology made as widely available as possible. I firmly believe that vaping saved my own life – it’s the only thing that could have stopped me smoking after a heart attack nearly killed me at the age of 42. By now it’s undeniable that vapour products offer something that no NRT or smoking cessation method can provide – enthusiasm.

People smoke for the nicotine and die from the tar. That’s the basic truth that so often gets overlooked.  If you can give smokers a way of using nicotine that’s at least as enjoyable as smoking – and yes, most smokers do enjoy it, whatever they tell researchers – then they’ll embrace it enthusiastically. If you tell them they’re ill, and need to be cured by dull or unpleasant medical methods? Perhaps not so much.

So vaping makes perfect sense to me, which is why I’ve been advocating for it almost since I switched in early 2013. Unfortunately, despite a little progress in a few quarters, the tide is still firmly against us – the US Surgeon General’s Report, released a few hours after I became ViP’s new leader, is the perfect illustration of what we’re up against.

So why Vapers in Power? Here’s why. Vapers, in the UK and globally, face a wide spectrum of enemies. Between ill-informed politicians, rent-seeking public health groups, puritan zealots and rogue medics, we’re under attack from every direction. To hang on to our freedoms we need to fight back in every direction, too. So the New Nicotine Alliance tries to talk sense into health organisations; consumer groups, under the umbrella of INNCO, advocate on behalf of ordinary vapers; and ViP is our way to remind politicians that we live in a democracy and vapers get to vote.

We are fighting a war on many fronts. Vapers in Power defends one of those fronts, but it can only do so as part of a coordinated strategy. Under my leadership I hope we can build on the great work done by Jessica, and work closely with any group who believes our right to use nicotine safely trumps anyone else’s fake concerns.

Obviously, to do that effectively we’re going to need people and resources. If you want to help, please sign up – it’s only a fiver a year – and join our online communities. To stay updated you can follow the official ViP Twitter feed @vapers and my own  @FergusForVapers.

I don’t expect this to be the start of my personal journey to 10 Downing Street. I don’t even expect to see a Vapers in Power MP elected. But this is a democracy, and each of you has a vote. So in a very real way we’re in power already. Let’s use it.