Category Archives: On The Road

We need more Power!

***************UPDATE*****************

Vapers in Power are delighted to say that a kind member of the community has come forward with a donation so we can purchase the goods required. We would like to send our warmest regards to Andrew Scotchmere.

***************UPDATE*****************

Vapers in Power will be attending several events this year and we want to make our presence as effective as we can. We have determined that the best way we can improve our service at events is to get some more POWER! i.e. electricity lol

This would allow us to run a laptop and internet connection to enable people to write to their politician (or sign petitions) on the day. With someone on hand to give them guidance if they haven’t done it before.

IF YOU ARE ABLE TO LEND (OR DONATE) ANY OF THESE PRODUCTS FOR VIP USE WE WOULD BE VERY GRATEFUL.

Ideally we need:
A Leisure battery like this one http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Banner-Energy-Bull-Leisure-Battery-95601-12V-80Ah-/361551903205?hash=item542e2c39e5:g:9BkAAOSwSclXLcdN
Though a fairly high aH car battery might do the trick like one from a diesel vehicle.

An inverter of at least 300w like this sort of thing https://www.amazon.co.uk/Inverter-inverter-notebook-emergency-MRI3013BU-UK/dp/B00INW611Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1462833823&sr=8-1&keywords=inverter

And some sort of trickle charger or automatic charger, a bit like this http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/6AMP-12V-HEAVY-DUTY-VEHICLE-BATTERY-CHARGER-CAR-VAN-TRUCK-ELECTRICAL-CHARGING-/321820321967?hash=item4aedfc68af%3Ag%3A7m4AAOSwHnFVu4ei

Our immediate need is for Vape Collective which we will be attending at the end of May. We have people able to collect in North London area, Cardiff area, Lincoln area, West Yorkshire and Glasgow and the surrounding area, if you have any equipment you would like to pass along.

Please contact us at info@vapersinpower.co.uk if you can help

 

A Civilised Event

I had the opportunity on Thursday night to attend an event hosted by the Merseyside Skeptics Society. The guest speaker was Robin Ireland, and the topic looked interesting.

Why vapers think that e-cigarettes will lead to the ending of cigarette smoking and why their optimism may be misplaced.

Here is how the event was described on the Facebook invitation.

Electronic cigarettes are a hot topic and not only in public health forums. Public Health England have pronounced e-cigs as around “95% less harmful than tobacco”. However the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in America and the World Health Organisation take a much more precautionary stance. The latter view ‘Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)’ as having potential public health benefits but these are yet unproven. Robin Ireland, a Liverpool-based public health advocate, will discuss the evidence as much as it is available in the context of tobacco control efforts in England.

Robin is Chief Executive of Heart of Mersey and the Health Equalities Group originally established in 2003 to address the inequitable levels of heart disease and stroke on Merseyside. Robin was awarded his Master of Public Health at the University of Liverpool in 2007 and was elected Member of the Faculty of Public Health through Distinction in 2015. His position on e-cigs has led him to be vilified by vapers on social media whilst the Institute of Economic Affairs has branded the Health Equalities Group, “Sock Puppets”.

In all honesty I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The title of the talk appeared to be designed to be inflammatory, but knowing a little about Skeptics societies, I didn’t think the audience was going to be an easy one to bamboozle, if that was the intent.

I arrived at the venue early and spent some time in the bar chatting to the locals (predominantly about e-cigarettes and the physical effects of stopping smoking lol). I was joined by Adam Williams (Rojeans). Who had history with the speaker, having appeared on radio a couple of times with him. As we moved into the meeting room and took our seats Robin spotted Adam and commented that he knew he could expect some tough questions from our section of the room. Their greetings were cordial, almost jovial.

The presentation was split broadly into two sections. The first was on the subject of tobacco, and its effect on the health of the population of Merseyside. There were slides with details of life expectancy in the Merseyside area, a comparison of life expectancy in various areas of the UK and information on how smoking prevalence, which is high in the area, is believed to be a major contributory factor to comparatively low life expectancy levels in Merseyside.

To open the second section of the presentation Robin started with a slide about abuse he had received on Twitter. I’m not sure how this was really relevant to the topic at hand, though he did at least acknowledge that not all vapers were the same and that equally his topic, which assumed to know what vapers think, would not be true of all vapers.

He did a good job of outlining his reasons for concern about vaping. These could broadly be described as a concern that bill boards and flavouring were not aimed at adult smokers, but at children. A real worry that renormalisation could undo much of the hard work he had put into reducing smoking prevalence, and a large dose of ‘We don’t know what the long term risks might be’. Dual use and long-term vaping both came up for some criticism.

I felt that he was less thorough in presenting what he thought the alternative viewpoint was, though perhaps this was to be expected.

With the presentation over and a break for everyone to take a trip to the bar. We settled back down for the Q+A session, and that’s when the evening really livened up.

The questions were generally well thought out and I was pleased to see that when the speaker didn’t know the answer he had the courage to say so rather than attempt to blather. What was particularly amusing was the way that questions were not only directed at the speaker, but at the vapers in the room. After Adam asked his question and identified himself as a vape shop owner, several questions were directed our way. A cell biologist joined in on the subject of nicotine addiction, and a psychologist commented on the propensity of humans to experiment with mind altering substances.

I don’t think you could say that by the end of the evening any conclusions had been reached, but the event was entertaining, educational and above all civilised.

Adam particularly commented that he felt Robin Ireland’s position had mellowed somewhat in the two years he had known him. He’s been listening, and the emphasis on Tobacco Harm Reduction which was a feature of Adam’s participation in the Q+A did appear to be taken on board.

I had the opportunity to spend a brief time after the event chatting to Robin, and personally I found him to be quite likeable. We talked about the TPD and the issues I believe this is going to cause. My specific question during the Q+A had been about whether he was concerned that the legislation would hand the vaping industry to the tobacco companies.

He asked me about how likely I thought the TPD was to lead to shoddy black market goods flooding the UK market. My reply basically said I was very concerned, as I was going to end up using black market nicotine and I was deeply concerned that there would be little way of telling if it was the grade or strength that it purported to be.

We agreed that there are some nutters on Twitter and that I probably knew more about the wording and implementation of the TPD than he did. He came across as someone open to hearing alternative viewpoints, even if sometimes his background and training made it difficult for him to accept them. A thoroughly civilised end to what was a thoroughly civilised event.

Abi Cottrill

The E-Cig Summit

Vapers in Power was given two passes to attend the E-cig summit. I went along with Paul Barnes (FDM blog). We are very grateful to the Summit for giving us the opportunity to attend. This post just aims to give an impression of the day itself from an advocate’s perspective. The Ashtray Blog and and Facts Do Matter have already given very informative accounts of what happened.

Vaping advocacy is a very online affair so getting away from the keyboard and actually meeting people in the vaping world is always a surreal experience. This one took the (posh) biscuit though.
The Royal Society is a very impressive setting and I could have happily spent a long time wandering about in there (doubt the staff would have welcomed that though). It’s a beautiful Georgian building, designed by John Nash. It’s huge with enormous rooms and a staircase which goes off both ways at the bottom. You could easily imagine balls taking place there. It was a very plush affair with top notch cheese straws and Twinings tea.

In terms of vaping advocates it was a who’s who. Networking was obviously of paramount importance and so I didn’t really do any (!). I met a few people who I’ve “seen” and communicated with online- always one of the best aspects of real world vaping events. I loved meeting them all: if I ever get stuck in a lift I hope it’s with another vaper. The vaping community is populated by clever, funny, compassionate and very individual (often off the wall, in the best way) people. (“Unconventional” is probably the word I’m struggling for.)

The programme was jam packed. The organisers and the chair, Ann McNeil, managed to keep the timetable on track. This was no mean feat (Dr F!). They did it very diplomatically, with humour and charm and without looking ruffled. Honestly (and I have already declared my COI here, free pass) if I ever needed to host a posh event (unlikely as that is) I’d be gutted if Amanda couldn’t organise it. The programme (8.55 am to 5.30 pm with 3 breaks) packed in 18 presentations plus 4 panel debates. Oliver Kershaw couldn’t do his presentation so it finished on time. By the end my head was buzzing with Powerpoint slides. Professor Abrams at the end was a relief partly because his presentation centred on shapes (that was kind of the point of his presentation too).

Oliver not presenting was a real shame because it would have been the only presentation given by someone who represents consumers. Andy, Lorien and Sarah from the New Nicotine Alliance did a fantastic job on behalf of vapers but they only appeared in the panel debates: the NNA didn’t have a presentation slot. Andy Logan (Vape Emporium) was the only vendor voice, again only in a panel discussion.
I appreciate why the presentation slots were dominated by tobacco control, scientists, regulators and various public health people,  reasons hinted at in the introduction in the programme too:

“What I hope the Summit will do is facilitate understanding around the areas of deepest concern for scientists, consumers, public health and industry.”

Yes it’s a crucial time to be influencing the regulators and policy makers, including the delegates from the Department of Heath and the MHRA who were there. It’s true too though that the vaping revolution only happened because we vapers wanted it and the vendors and manufacturers sprang up to supply us. Is the commitment to “Nothing about us without us” (voiced by some of the speakers) only lip service?  If so is this an inevitable consequence of the PHE review and the acceptance of e-cigs amongst many professionals: do they feel compelled to take ownership?  If memory serves me well (it doesn’t always!) there was a slide from Roseanne O’Connor of PHE listing the stakeholders who had been consulted. There was no mention of consumers on that slide, unless we were referred to by an unfamiliar acronym. (please also see Alan Beard’s excellent post on this)

Charlotte “Many studies indicate harm” Pisinger deserves an enormous clap on the back for turning up and the organisers need to be applauded too for getting her there. Apparently other naysayers were invited too but declined the invitation. Charlotte deserves a lot of respect for that imo, makes her a decent human being. She looked nervous, probably expecting to get lynched by the nasty vapers she’d heard about (of course she wasn’t). No questions were encouraged at the end of her presentation so Dr Farsalinos asked her one in the panel debate instead-she still didn’t answer it but it was good try.
I wondered why Louise Ross didn’t have a presentation slot (maybe she presented last year). Andrea Crossfield (Tobacco Free Futures) gave a presentation about stop smoking services’ perceptions of vaping. It was filled with the obvious. That’s probably why so much of this is frustrating: we are waiting for professionals to catch up with what we already know, and they can’t because they have to have evidence (otherwise they wouldn’t be professional!). I was really surprised to hear Louise say (in the panel debate) that prescribing ecigs probably won’t help because variety is too important to users. I’d have expected a stop smoking practioner to be pushing for prescription ecigs so I was stuck (yet again) by the integrity that Louise has.
Jim McManus was fantastic. The Summit was filmed so hopefully everyone will get the chance to see his presentation. He’s since published a brilliant blog post which anyone concerned with vaping and public health needs to read.

The Summit reinforced my impression that the professionals in our corner (such as Linda Bauld, Clive Bates, Dr Farsalinos, Peter Hajek) are very genuinely passionate about this. Some of them have swum against the tide for a long while, at risk to their professional reputations. Brave people – we are lucky.

At one point me and another delegate, Andy Morrison, found ourselves outside on the forecourt (in order to vape unrestrainedly) and the doorman asked us not to smoke (“any sort of smoking isn’t allowed”).   We moved and he later apologised for not realising that vaping isn’t smoking. That real world difficulty wasn’t addressed in the Summit though. Peter Hajek gave a presentation about how to deal with misconceptions about nicotine (i.e undoing the harm done by decades of minsinformation by tobacco control). The common misconception that vaping is smoking really needs to be tackled too.

Something else which needs to be addressed urgently is how schools should deal with vaping. I hope that PHE are developing a fact sheet for that (along with the vaping in the home one which they mentioned).

Also I’d have liked to see more discussion about the part which decent vendors play in getting people onto vaping. It’s remarkable how the best vendors are so skilled at supplying smokers and vapers needs, without having had any state guidance or interference at all to help them do it. I’m not suggesting that regulation in this area is desirable (quite the opposite) but it could have been helpful to have a session evaluating what good practice is and how it can be shared with all vendors and stop smoking services.

It’s unrealistic to expect a one day event to address all the issues –and that’s probably why the agenda was so crammed. I should say too that at the end the organisers really did their best to get vapers to comment and ask questions and I’m ashamed to say that it’s only now I’ve thought of several.

The time is right for an Advocacy Workshop – watch this space!

 

 

 

My First Hustings

This blog was first published April 20, 2015 with the kind cooperation of Anonymous Vaper guest-blog-my-first-hustings

So, two days before I was really nervous – I mean, we’re a single issue party and I’d pretty much insisted that “Protect Our NHS” give me an equal voice. They didn’t want to at first, they said there wasn’t enough time for the “major” candidates as it was. I think it was me suggesting I go as a member of the audience that swung it.

The night before I slept ok – I just put the radio up a bit louder to drown out my thoughts I think, and on the day I didn’t get a chance to worry: up, work, home at 1, baby, phone some journalists about our press release (neither of whom were there – left messages) then down to the pool with my 3 yr old. Back, tea, hold the baby for a bit (she got the norovirus injection earlier in the week, or something) and is a bit crotchety. Bath with daughter no.1 while partner gets baby to sleep and then drop off daughter no.1 onto partner and baby and out the door. Should have made some spaghetti and had a helicopter following me.

Anyway, I get to the venue on time. Lots of posters about local NHS issues. Wander in. Get given a leaflet: “Thanks, er, actually I’m a candidate, is there anyone I should see?”. I get shown to the group of organisers and candidates, say thank you graciously to the organisers and give the candidates Clive Bates’ briefing. Tell them to read it! The UKIP candidate tells me he’s not had a fag for 4 weeks and has an ecig and baccy at the ready. I advised him to try the ecig first.

We sit down.

The hustings is organised so that we get a 2 minute intro then 1 minute to answer questions in turn. Now, all of these questions are about the NHS (apart from one CND guy who sneakily slipped trident into the mix), and they’re mostly about specific local issues. I decided to respect the organisers and be brief if I hadn’t an ecig point to make.

We’re in alphabetical order, I’m second. My intro is basically, I tried a cigalike from curiosity, it was ok and I could tell there was potential, I got a decent ecig and didn’t want to smoke again. Then the EU decided to ban the decent stuff. I may have gently suggested the pharma companies, the tobacco companies, AND the governments would benefit from the nobbling of ecigs.

It was well organised, a different person answered first each time and then we took it in turns, so apart from the one where I went first, there was plenty of thinking time. There was a question about migrant workers (40% of NHS workers are migrants). I said how I’d got over how different people are somehow more deserving because of where they’re born and that there should be more migration. There was one from a nurse talking about the stress and absenteeism due to stress she experiences, even though her departments budget has meant to have been increased. I told her how at the school I’m working at, they restructured as they were 1M in the red, got rid of some actual teachers and created a new level of management!

At one point, I made a throwaway remark, “I’m so not going to get elected” and there was an “ahh” that went round the audience and I heard “bless” – don’t think they’re used to honesty at these events!

There was a question about privatisation (actually, apart from the CND one, ALL the questions were indirectly about privatisation) that I thought was worth expanding on – I spoke about how people don’t really play a part any more, about how vapers wrote and visited and actually got MEPs to historically vote against something, but then the corruptocrats just bounced it back.

I did call Trident a dinosaur by the way, when the CND guy asked his question, just my opinion!

It went well. I didn’t look at the clock until the last 30 mins, I was a bit panicky, but not too much, I think I was cogent.

And I did get the biggest laugh of the night in our 1min final statement. I said a UK Labour MEP steered the TPD through the EU, The tory Health Minister was on the EU Commission, a Lib Dem MEP said it was “a victory for vapers”, and UKIP managed to vote both for and against it, “I don’t know who you should vote for!” (forgot the Greens support of medicalisation, sorry, heat of the moment)
So, all in all – I don’t think I made us look stupid! Two more to go, I’ll bring a pen and paper next time!

Liam Bryan