Category Archives: Opinion

I’m sorry I haven’t got A Billion Lives for you anyway

Why should I reserve a ticket at one of these A Billion Lives Screenings?

A Billion Lives is a film about the “official” reaction to vaping. You can watch the trailer here:

It is currently being offered at a few cinemas in the UK through a service called Demand Film. The idea is that if enough (~60) people reserve a ticket for a specific screening, on a specific time and at a specific place, that screening goes ahead. You can even host your own screening. Info below:

https://uk.demand.film/a-billion-lives/

It’s not going well.

A few screenings have been secured. This is only because shops, individuals and us have bulk bought tickets. By and large though, only a handful of tickets are being reserved and the screenings are getting cancelled.

Various theories have been put forward: vapers are stingy, vapers don’t care, vapers would rather watch it for free on youtube.

None of those are right.

The reason tickets aren’t being reserved, in my opinion, is that vapers don’t understand why reserving a ticket is important. And why should we? I know vaping is safe enough and I know that various interests’ profit margins depend on vaping failing. It’s preaching to the converted.

That so isn’t why you should reserve a ticket.

It isn’t about us as viewers. Its about getting the film to a wider audience. So everyone will end up knowing this. Reserving a ticket isn’t so you can see the film, its so the film can demonstrate that it is in demand, and so the larger platforms will take a punt on it.

Reserving a ticket is a leap of faith, its a financial, temporal and personal cost that I think you should swallow because if the message of the film becomes accepted truth, then this whole mess goes away.

Sometimes, documentaries work. An Inconvenient Truth is perhaps the best example of this. They change how things are seen.
I’ve seen A Billion Lives, and I can promise you that it is capable of delivering the kind of change that An Inconvenient Truth made happen.

But the only way that will happen is if it gets a wider audience.

And the only way that will happen is if the distributors believe there is demand for it.

And the only way that will happen is if tickets get reserved.

You have a chance to significantly affect how vaping is regarded, by everyone.

Just a few hundred brave souls reserving tickets will convince the distributors that this film is worth taking a punt on. The awards from the festivals its been shown at should reassure you of its worth. It is worth it, a certain baby/river comment in it has changed the way I think (when you see it you will get it).

Please, reserve some tickets for A Billion Lives in a cinema near you today.

By Liam Bryan – Vapers in Power Campaign Manager

VF blog

Dick Puddlecote joins ViP at Vapefest

Vapers in Power had a blast at Vapefest and really enjoyed meeting everyone who made it to our marquee, before it blew away!  As with Vapefest 2015 the ViP tent hosted speakers and we were delighted that Dick Puddlecote could make it this year too.  For those who missed his epic talk, here are his notes- and it’s almost as entertaining to read as it was to watch. 

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Dick Puddlecote at Vapefest 2016 (Taken by Richard Hyslop)

Last year I came here and spoke on way to a family holiday. Stayed for a couple of hours then went and did interesting things like eating tons of chocolate at Cadbury World and nearly castrating myself jumping in a harness off a high wire adventure course.

I thought I’d do a review of the year since then (or more accurately, I suppose, a review of what I have written about in vaping this year), so to start with, what did others do for their holiday last summer?

SEPTEMBER

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Chapman vaper-spotting:
“My wife and I spent many hours every day walking around Paris (six days), Lyon (two), the Corsican towns of Bonifacio, Ajaccio and Calvi (eight days), Nice (one), Barcelona (two) and Madrid (four). We agreed to compete in spotting the highest number of people vaping, with the incentive for the daily winner being to pick where we’d eat that night. We also looked out for shops selling e-cigarettes. All sightings had to be called as they occurred, not just a winning number announced at the end of the day.
Over the 23 days, we saw just 20 people vaping: 15 in Paris, one in Lyon, one in Calvi, one in Barcelona and two in Madrid. By contrast, we saw many people smoking almost everywhere we looked at any time of day. Far too many to count. At a guess, the ratio would have been at very least many hundreds of smokers to one vaper.”
Boy doesn’t he relax like a boss! Bet his wife had a fantastic time.
Erm, aren’t anecdotes meant to be useless Simon, you decrepit piece of fossilised dinosaur crap?

McKee/Capewell wrote to the Lancet about the positive PHE report on e-cigs. Apparently it was fatally flawed because in one of the 185 studies they reviewed, a couple of ‘experts’ had once been paid for research by BAT in around 1946 or something. Riccardo Polosa was particularly criticised for IIRC having dared to do work for pharma companies. Erm … words fail. But more on that later.

OCTOBER

A quiet month. But Matt Ridley wrote to the Times to slam the TPD. Hazel Cheeseminge of ASH replied haughtily that …
“EU regulations will provide a safe framework through which electronic cigarettes can be sold, giving their users confidence in these products. This is likely to save many thousands of lives.”
Well only if they can find out about them love, considering many forms of advertising has been banned, thousands of flavours will disappear as a result, and the most useful strength for smokers wishing to switch is illegal.

NOVEMBER

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Report of the Health Committee in Wales on the Public Health Bill was published.
Debate centred on the proposals on vaping in workplaces that are also homes. Especially Article 8 of Human Rights Act on right to private and family home life. The committee was of the opinion that they were entitled to ignore Art 8 for passive smoking (based on nonsense junk science) but not for vaping cos it’s not dangerous. However that … “need to protect against the risk of re-normalisation, the gateway effect and enforcement difficulties”
Because some guy vaping in his front room watching WWE will renormalize smoking, magically make kids run to the shop for a pack of Marlboro and cause a headache for enforcement officials cos he has his curtains drawn, THE BASTARD! (scenario)

On my blog I wrote about A Billion Lives. I criticised Biebert’s stupid use of the umpteen thousand kids die of passive smoke bollocks, but defended the use of other PH propaganda as a great tool to embarrass them. Smokers were absolutely livid! How dare I suggest that smoking might be risky … as I have always done? By contrast, vapers were incredibly supportive … I was only called ‘disgusting’, ‘slime’, and a ‘worm’ for daring to say anything negative about the film.
In short, smokers attacked vapers, vapers attacked smokers, it crawled all over the internet … and when it all calmed down, everyone thought I was a wanker.

 

MPs were given a new vaping area outside Westminster … and promptly completely ignored it.

DECEMBER

To the surprise of no-one, an EU court threw out TW’s objection to Article 20. The reasoning given was that they didn’t have the first clue what the devices are and why they are being regulated. Or something.

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Said that it was reasonable to regulate to stop the gateway theory, yet nothing in TPD would counteract that. May as well have said we think the TPD is fine because it helps old ladies cross the road.

JANUARY

Big month for DP. After just under a year, finally got FOI answered properly on McKee/Davies emails.
This revealed that he lied in the BMJ about writing the Lancet criticism, it was shown he referred “with interest” to something he had anonymously written with fellow gobshite Capewell. And was trying hard to undermine his own profession by pillow talk with Silly Sally.
I published a few articles and he went quiet for a while. Must have worried a lot cos when he came back he was a shadow of the man he once was, his weight had plummeted to only around 20 stone!
The FOI also highlighted McKee complaining that …

“Blogs and tweets having a field day, photoshopping my face onto all sorts of things”

Yes, that’s what Twitter tends to do with an oozy lather of obesity who thinks howling at the moon is science, Martin.

FEBRUARY

EU rumoured to tax e-cigs, but that was OK because the UK govt had a veto! You know, the UK govt who loves the EU so much … except for one thing, the UK was one of 3 nations to suggest the idea!

NCSCT released guidance on e-cigs. It led to an epidemic of ‘public health’ bedwetting!

  1. Store safely
  2. Be positive … just imagine that!
  3. Don’t be alarmed about recreation!
  4. Dual use is not a bad thing … heresy!
  5. And worst of all, TALK TO VAPERS, they’re the experts!

Just imagine that! Actually listen to vapers? Calls to the Samaritans from middle-aged women in stop smoking services must have seen a spike at the very thought!

NCSCT

MARCH

Very busy month.
A small beach in Wales called Little Haven was subject to the first ever outdoor vaping ban not on NHS (as in, our) property. Faggot-lipped fuckwits at ASH Wales declared that they “fully welcomed” it. They later replied to tweets saying they tried to convince the council that it was a bad idea, but their logo is still on a no vaping sign there. In order to defend a beach visited by one man and his three-legged dog with just an ice cream trolley and a shop selling £1 nets and inflatables in the shape of a duck.

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In other news, Drakeford hilariously lost his Public Health Bill by one vote then proceeded to blame everyone else. (Side note, but have you noticed how many “health” officials who hate vaping are fat fucks?). No, Mark, the reason you lost is because you stunningly clung onto a ridiculous ban on vaping, if you want to blame anyone look in your mirror (which presumably takes up an entire wall so he can see himself in full).

Jack Le Beau wrote a steaming pile of shit I’m not allowed to talk about and I cheered something Clive Bates said which led to just about everyone calling me a wanker … again.

APRIL

As the football season ended, a guy was banned from Leicester’s celebrations for vaping. Rightfully vapers went mad and there is an event in Sept to discuss the issue at Leicester’s ground. I’d urge anyone who is free to go along. http://www.kachange.eu/activities/dialogues 

April also saw the Royal College of Physicians report launch and what I call the “Big Scream” followed! From Dublin to Sydney via Manchester, every pretend health professional who despises e-cigs whined like fucking babies that science was trumping their deeply-held bigotry … err, sorry, beliefs!

It was by far the highlight of the year for me.

On RCP “Big Scream” I wrote: “Who knew that such a benign activity as vaping could flush out so many vile anti-social and intolerant arseholes in one fell swoop”

In other news, huge anti-vaper Simon Chapman was appointed to review Australia’s policies on e-cigs, talk about the fox guarding the hen house, and Aberdeen council proposed a ban on vaping in car parks. When asked for comment, ASH Scotland avoided comment and said “ooh is that the time, I think we have an appointment, erm, somewhere else!”

MAY

This month I wrote about the extraordinary lobbying undertaken by ASH. This was cos I was passed a FOI from Guido Fawkes with ASH emails to DoH. I STILL HAVEN’T FINISHED READING IT!

There was also the IEA debate following the TPD being officially implemented. Ian Green spoke about effect on the free market it introduced as an owner of a vape shop, Ian Barber of the advertising association spoke about effect on the free market it introduced to advertising, Lorien Jollye spoke about effect on the free market it introduced to consumers, Fraser Cropper spoke about effect on the free market it introduced to independent businesses, Mark Pawsey MP turned up late and said … look at me, isn’t Brexit shit?

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Callanan’s motion! A great initiative, brilliantly supported by vapers, most espesh ViP whose work ensured that all 800+ Lords received at least 3 letters from the public! (applause). If politicians didn’t know of the vaping vote before that, they certainly did after.

JUNE

BREXIT! Vapers arguably won it! Vote Leave campaign manager Matthew Elliott used it as a campaigning tool, his deputy Matt Sinclair tweeted about it and Leave.EU used article 20 as an example of EU overreach and intransigence. Meant to be free market. The Freedom Association is now here at Vapefest talking about Freedom to Vape as a campaign on its own. This is progress.

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ASH Wales, who fully welcomed the beach ban in March, also absolutely loved a red button at Hywel Dda (Thanks to Rhydian for pronouncing it) which allows hideous cheesedicks to press it and “anonymously harangue smokers for doing so outdoors”. We now learn it cost £9000 thanks to Rhydian’s FOI.

Callanan came back for a last hurrah at his motion which was relegated to one of regret instead of fatal. He took the opportunity to rip into those who have been shockingly apathetic or worse about e-cigs.
On Soubry: “Cringe-making performance”
On Silly sally “Incompetence would be funny if not so serious”
On MHRA “Signally failed” the public and politicians should be “extremely cautious about listening to its lobbying”
Followed criticism of DoH earlier in the year “to its deep shame [DoH] tried to block e-cigs”
My second best moment of the year.

JULY

Royal Society of Medicine debate: I attended this which was about all types of drugs but included e-cigs. Quite stunning Q from a medical type in the post-panel Q&A.
“Could you elaborate on the benefits of drugs?”
I kid you not. Erm, how about that for millions of years humans have enjoyed getting shitfaced on them. From the first time Neanderthal man ate a berry which gave him a buzz our kind have enjoyed mood-altering substances. Any ‘public health’ type who still doesn’t get this and insists on abstinence over harm reduction is more backward than cavemen themselves.

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PHE guidance on vaping in work and public was released. Instantly taken by media as being “vapers should be given more breaks”. All coverage relied on the false assumption that e-cigs are already banned or should be. Stronger message please PHE, it’s like a fucking whisper at the moment.

AUGUST

Full circle to August.

Most absurd proposal of the last 12 months. Smoking and Vaping banned on public streets! Outside a hospital. With cars, vans, buses, and two – count ‘em – TWO huge packed car parks in the same road. The public think this is a great idea! Which just goes to show how incredibly stupid PH has guided the public to be.

So what can we expect or hope to expect in the coming year? Well, the Pleasure Principle is something vapers already know about from the NNA, but also “Pleasure Economy” which was my fave phrase of the year. It was a term mentioned by European drug harm expert Axel Klein at the RSM event in July. The market for e-cigs and associated supplies is predicted to top £1bn this year. We are now a force not just as vapers but also as a market. Prohibition failed, prohibition by regulation failed, it is now not just a movement but an entire business category on its own. That carries clout and should be impossible to stop.

I once said the same about vapers. That the more there are the harder it is to silence. There are now over 1,600 vape shops in this country, 2.8m vapers and growing. It can’t be stopped so next 12 months we should seek to point that out.

Vapers mean business, vapers mean that you can earn money (public and private), vapers mean votes (Brexit proves that) and you’d better get used to it cos they’re part of the economy.

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You can read Dick’s blogposts at http://dickpuddlecote.blogspot.co.uk/  and follow him on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Dick_Puddlecote

 

The Pleasure Principle

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There have already been a few blogs on this, from Sarah’s seminal start, to Simon’s recent addition. The hope, I guess, is that by banging on we can finally get into PH’s sometimes thick skulls (sorry PH readers), what vaping is all about. At least for a significant section of vapers.

The clue is in the title, pleasure. Smoking was pleasurable, that is why I did it. The addiction/pleasure nexus is hard to untangle, but pleasure was there. Either the dopamine hit from stress relief or the sheer joy in watching blue-tinged smoke billow across a summer-lit, darkened room. Or just the head-rush from the first fag of the day, or after a meal, or after sex.

Then I started to hear about vaping, oh it wasn’t called that then, so, more accurately, I started to hear about electronic cigarettes. I was curious because if I had the money I’d be an early adopter of every technology – hell, I’d have a bionic arm in a heartbeat – and I totally wish I could upload myself into the cloud. So eventually, after a few months of being aware of their existence, I tried to find out about them, I bought one.

It was a cigalike, yeah, but it was brushed steel and it glowed green (or blue lol, I can’t remember). I was straight into living in some kind of sci-fi future. Ok, the battery was pants (even though I had ordered two), but it was more pleasurable than smoking, more fun.

It was fucking tasty! I’d ordered a tobacco (a bit nutty, a bit meh) and an apple – oh the nights of internet browsing that discovering that ecigs came in flavours led to…

More of the pleasure, none of the death.

People are led often by base instincts. We are creatures of simplicity and reaction. We rarely respond to logic, we like to be cosy. Vaping hits so many bases it’s unreal. That is why ordinary, unexceptional folk have had the temerity to question our Lords and masters – to kick back at the lies and misinformation still being peddled in even so-called “vaping friendly” nations like the UK.

Some things are simple – vaping is fun and fulfilling, I only do it because I like it more than smoking, doh! It is consumer-led and it threatens established interests. ASH’s recent behaviour for instance is out on a limb. They, and many others, in India, in Australia, in the US, all over, are actually causing harm by trying to stop people enjoying themselves. Just unpack that for a minute. There should be court cases.

Give me one repeatable and credible study that shows harm from ecigs.

Another thing, social media. I had LOADS of friends in my 20’s. As I got older I just fell out of contact with most of them. As I entered my 40’s, my biggest gripe was that I just didn’t seem to have any connections any more. Well. vaping changed that big time. It might be the camaraderie of being on the David side, it might just be having a hobby! It’s not directly related but I throw it in because friendships increase pleasure, and vaping has given me some real and deep friends.

So, I’m sitting here, looking at my PC screen (as I do far too much), occasionally toking on a Blueberry/Raspberry mix, or Custard with a bit of Apricot, or a Red Astaire one shot, blowing out the (admittedly small by some standards) clouds and absolutely bloody loving it.

#CelebrateTheVape

Vaping changed my life. Vaping saved my life. Vaping is my life.

Lee Woolls, Vapers in Power candidate for Cardiff West on 5 May 2016

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2010 was a year of incredible transformation for both myself and my wife. We both turned 40 and we both turned our back on cigarettes. Between us we were consuming almost 100 cigarettes a day. I used to struggle to smoke 10 a day and I ended up on           60-a-day. How did that happen?
I tried many times to quit. Patches, gums and Zyban. They all worked for while but the hunger, the unscratchable itch, and the need to deal with other things other than the smoking meant that I relapsed into smoking.
In 2010 I tried an electronic cigarette and, although it wasn’t the same as smoking, I kept going and never smoked a cigarette again. My wife, the same.

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We started a business and opened our first retail store in 2012. We were nervous about taking on the rates and rent and unsure whether we’d be successful or not. My wife reminded me that we were doing it to help people to move away from tobacco and ‘as long as we cover the costs, we can continue’. She was right. It was never about the money, it was always about showing people the alternatives to smoking tobacco.
4 years on we have 11 stores across Wales and 1 in Scotland. We are bad business people because it was never about the money, it was always about the helping hand and giving confidence to those that wished to stop and had failed using conventional methods, like me.
The attempt to remove freedom of choice for Vapers, tobacco users and business owners is something we need to stand together on. We are the people and the politicians are there to serve us.
Vaping changed my life. Vaping saved my life. Vaping is my life.

 

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Will Vaping become obsolete?

I’ve been pondering this the past day, because of a comment somewhere else, its also something I’m sure we’ve all thought about before.

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On the one hand you have the evidence of thousands of years of nicotine use – but mostly in a smoked form – and our own personal experience of vaping being a pleasurable thing and something, I for one, think gives more than it takes from my life.

Yet, we’re all ex-smokers, our brains (we are told) have become hard-wired to get pleasure from a nic hit. Given the less addictive nature of ecigs cf fags, it is possible/probable that for future generations, it’ll be more of a take it or leave it thing. People won’t get as addicted to ecigs as they did to fags.

So, can I discount my experience of nicotine use “sharpening” my life as due to my previous use of cigarettes? Will nic alone be enough of a draw to keep a vaping market viable in the long term?

A clear assumption running through my thinking is that nic use isn’t a problem (once smoke has been taken out of the picture) – as ever the caveat that should we learn that nic use does cause problems worth a rethink of the cost/benefit calculation, then, well, the sums must be run again.

So, I think I think (lol), that while there may not be an issue with continuing nicotine use for the eons that I’m sure humanity will survive for (what the robots are going to do with it I don’t know!) – it is at least a possibility that recreational nicotine, if fags are out, might die out.

Doubt it though.

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

I am the knight who says “N.I.D!”

Since my guest blog about the proposed bill which contained the proposals to ban vaping in pretty much every enclosed public space in November, the Heath & Social Care Committee have been busy, as well as the Welsh Assembly as a whole.

Some of you followers of Vapers in Power may have seen the video summary of recent events in Welsh vaping politics on VapourTrails TV. If you have yet to see it, please watch it HERE!

Since that video was shared, a further twist to the tale has come to light. On January 19th 2016, the Health Minister, Mark Drakeford AM, has his amendments published on the Welsh Assembly website. You can see the entire 44 page document HERE, if you dare. Is there anything strange that you notice? No prizes for those who figure it out.

One opinion of the Health Minister
One opinion of the Health Minister

Yes that’s it. The entire 44 page document is dedicated to the control of vaping, or as the Health Minister calls them “Nicotine Inhaling Devices (NIDs)”. This clearly suggest that he is on a one-man crusade to eradicate smoking and nicotine use in Wales. This is no way to go about it. When there is an avenue for nicotine use for those addicted, in a much safer form, banning its use is no way to improve public health.

After the Stage 1 vote, the Health Minister posted these tweets himself.

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From the horses mouth…via Twitter (Dec 7th 2015)

Well, yet again the “Think of the children” avenue of pushing legislation through is being used. However, you may begin to think that he’s dropped the workplaces part of the original draft. Even at point of writing, a few of us are still struggling to find anything explicit relating to workplaces. You must remember that workplaces and public places cross over with vape shops. This is still a concern that there is no exemption for vape shops under “NID-free” premises.

Speaking of “NID-free” premises, there is  a massive addition to the PH Bill describing different types specifically in his Amendment 221. He is also looking to extend the most recent smoking related legislation on smoking in private vehicles with children under 18, by wanting to include vaping in Amendments 156 and 157. You can obviously realise the lack of thought which has been applied. Currently, the police have enough issues enforcing the current smoking in cars legislation by confusing vaping, which is exempt, with smoking. If this sneaky way of banning vaping in cars with children, Welsh vapers can be lumped with many fines. THAT IS GROSSLY UNFAIR!!

To carry on logically and in amendment sequence, in terms negativity that is. As I mentioned above, Amendment 221 is a big list of “NID-free” premises comprising of 4 Parts which cover; premises providing childcare, schools and public transport.

Amendment 221 by Mark Drakeford (19/1/2016)
Amendment 221 by Mark Drakeford (19/1/2016)

Above is a particular highlight. This section of Amendment 221 essentially overrides the current status quo regarding bars and restaurants. Now, the landlord of the establishment serving food can make their own policies regarding vaping. A well-known example is a site wide ban in Wetherspoons locations across the UK which occurred in early June 2013. This section, if included and approved by the entire Welsh Assembly, will put a blanket ban on vaping in pubs. This will also include beer gardens, despite being outside, when food is served. This is one of the most extreme examples of Wales becoming a nanny-state and Mark Drakeford being the Babysitter-in-Chief!

Babysitting, a particularly smooth segue into another ridiculous section of what Mark Drakeford wants to see in regards to vaping around children. See the excerpt below.

Amendment 221 - Mark Drakeford (19/1/2016)
Amendment 221 – Mark Drakeford (19/1/2016)

If you are a person, who has a child at home and vapes, you as a parent are perfectly permitted to vape around your child. However, if you invite a babysitter whom you pay into your own home, your home becomes vaping or “NID-free” as soon as said babysitter enters your home. Talk about invasion of personal property! Conversely, if a babysitter is a duel user, as in vapes and smokes, the babysitter will not be permitted to vape under the ideology of Mark Drakeford. If said babysitter, needs a nicotine fix, the only option available is to go outside and smoke. This means there could be a moment when the child is unsupervised. This is a severe lack of application of logic and tobacco harm reduction.

With all this doom and gloom, there is a pseudo silver lining. This teeny glimpse of hope comes in Amendment 155. This amendment suggests that a landlord, shop owner and possible owner of a workplace can designate any room or area in the premises where vaping is permitted, as in “not being NID-free” BUT there is a requirement to specify the conditions met before it can be described as exempt, records to be kept and detail when the exemption no longer applies. This can be the most important positive part of the schedule for vape shops. If a Welsh vape shop can use this clause and apply it to the ENTIRE SHOP, the you can completely carry on your taste testing and device demonstrations as you currently do. This is something vaping advocates asked for from the start as a compromise to reduce the impact on the vaping industry. Yes, its not an out right, black and white, in text but it is something to bear in mind. Not only can this apply to vape shops but also pubs. Well, regarding pubs, it could revert the pubs etc. to a picture from the past of separate areas in the venue. However, some pub landlords and customers do miss the “good old days” of a packed venue with smokers and non-smokers or in this case vapers in the venue.

Well, well, there as some saving graces amongst tightening of the screws of liberties to create policies and freedom to vape. The ground must be tread carefully indeed. The best amendments were initially made by Kirsty Williams and Darren Millar on December 9th 2015. On the other hand, Darren Millar has again put in an amendment of his own on January 20th 2016  which essentially is jargon heavy but relies on proposing a resolution to unravel all inclusions of “Nicotine Inhaling Devices” in Amendment 226.

So from an overall advocacy point of view, there is much to think about when it comes to shaping the Public Health (Wales) Bill at the end of Stage 2 of the HSCC process. You have clearly seen for yourselves that there is nannying, ideology and tripe from the Health Minister but teasers that he may actually have a heart [of sorts] that wants vapers to keep vaping.

Never take what is in this blog at face value. The HSCC will be discussing all the amendments and voting on them on January 28th and February 3rd 2016. The amendments regarding NIDs is highly likely to occur in the first session as NIDs appear in the start of the Bill. The method of voting is too complicated to write about but an email received from the HSCC Clerk can summarize it. One interesting point is what happens in the event of a tied vote. IN A TIED VOTE, THE CHAIR MUST VOTE AGAINST THE AMENDMENT!! 

This can severely scupper the efforts of vapers and pro-vaping politicians such as Kirsty and Darren. If the HSCC have a tied vote on their amendment to remove NIDs from the Bill, such as Labour Against 50% v Others In Favour 50%, then the amendment will not be agreed and wont have any affect on the Bill in anyway. This is a very scary thought! After this, it’s put before the whole Welsh Assembly to vote on AGAIN! The earliest day for the Plenary vote is Tuesday 1st March 2016. The confirmed date will be published HERE.

So if you find particular amendments insulting, over the top or actually quite positive from the Health Minister [not that you would] or from other HSCC members, please contact your local AM’s, ALL 5 OF THEM, with your views and which way they should vote on the PH Bill. You can do this via  Write to Vape-Wales which we have created.

We will endeavour to keep on the pulse with all goings-on in Wales. If you want a picture of what a blanket ban on vaping in enclosed public spaces can be like, check out our most recent guest blog from Minnesota by Alex Carlson.

Rhydian Mann

Welsh Campaign Manager

Vapers in Power

Why Vapers are like Lobsters

ReaperYes it’s the harbinger of doom again …. I will say this and you may take it as you will …. I hope every optimist is right but unfortunately I don’t share their optimism.

This all reminds me of a lobster community being asked to get in a pot.

lobsters

 

The lobsters all say “Hey its not as bad as we thought …. the water is a nice temperature.”

One lobster says “Look the pot lies on a heat source. the heat can be turned up !!!!”

The lobsters all shout “Hey we have been promised this is ‘light touch’ and they won’t turn up the heat!”.

To the annoyance of the other lobsters one lobster says “If they intend it to be light touch and have no intention of turning up the heat why put the pot on a possible heat source?”

I question why the UK government is introducing broad legislation yet assuring light touch.  Why not just introduce narrow legislation that is light touch (defined) and can’t be ramped up by broader interpretation?

I believe the UK government (Britain having the most active vapers in Europe) decided we need to be brought to the boil gently, unlike nations with less active vapers who can be dropped straight into a boiling pot.

So I advise, rather than relying on assurances from governments or vaping experts, look at how the legislation could be interpreted and not how the Government presently tells you it will interpret it.

At the end of the day … only the government can decide how the legislation will eventually be enforced, and only the courts (not vaping experts) can ultimately rule on the interpretation.

Yes my fears may be wrong but the ‘expert’s’ optimism may also be wrong…

Rather than looking for assurances from the government, MHRA et al in how they will enforce this legislation we should be fighting to have the legislation written as narrowly as possible (with solid definitions for words with several different meanings) and in a way so it can’t become more draconian merely through the government using a more draconian interpretation !!!!!

The problem I have found with the proposed legislation is that it is just so broad and ambiguous (it can even refer to sex at one point) it is difficult to stay focused as there are so many possibilities for different interpretation, which wouldn’t be the case if there was just a single bad point.

I hear people arguing ‘advertisement’ and its interpretation.   

The proposed legislation defines advertisement as ‘Commercial Communication’,  so advertisement throughout the legislation has to be considered as ‘Commercial Communication’ and not ‘Advertisement’ ….. The problem is that ‘Commercial’ and ‘Communication’ are very broad terms and the legislation doesn’t define those words either separately or combined.

So why bother with interpreting ‘advertisement’?   As I said above it is not relevant in this proposed TPD legislation.  If ‘red’ is defined as blue in legislation, any time the term ‘red’ is used it means blue and not red, at least for the purposes of that act.

Some have raised the fact that ‘Commercial Communication’ has been defined in other legislation,  but that legislation defines those terms only for the purposes of that specific act..

There was the possibility for the proposed TPD legislation to refer to another act that defined ‘Commercial Communication’, BUT IT DIDN’T   …. The law doesn’t expect interested parties to search through all other previous legislation and all relevant case law to understand a definition in new legislation.  So, however unlikely it may appear, a broad term (undefined) can be interpreted in anyway that it can be interpreted:   any of those interpretations are valid and can only be disputed by a court of law.

Although I have stated ‘Commercial Communication’ was defined  in previous legislation and that that definition only applies for the purposes of that act, it is interesting to look at that definition as it is at least one way ‘Commercial Communication’ could be defined in the new TPD legislation by the Government.

A point: the fact that previous legislation considers it important/necessary to define ‘Commercial Communication’ is a strong indicator that it should be defined and is another question mark over the fact that the proposed TPD legislation doesn’t define ‘Commercial Communication’ !!!!

The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002

Interpretation
2.—(1) In these Regulations and in the Schedule—
“commercial communication” means a communication, in any form, designed to
promote, directly or indirectly, the goods, services or image of any person pursuing a
commercial, industrial or craft activity or exercising a regulated profession, other
than a communication—” (continued below)

As with the legislation above I also consider that ‘Commercial Communication’ could refer to any communication that directly or indirectly refers to someone’s commercial product, such as an electronic cigarette, if that communication promotes/recommends that product.

What emphasizes that ‘commercial communication’, as seen within ‘The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002’, includes persons unrelated to the product and/or those with no financial interest, is the fact that they are particularly  excluded. (The proposed TPD legislation has no such exclusions). If there was no danger for such persons to be captured within the term ‘commercial communication’, then why the need for the exclusions?

The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 (exclusions continued directly from the definition above)

other than a communication—
(a) consisting only of information allowing direct access to the activity of that
person including a geographic address, a domain name or an electronic mail
address; or
(b) relating to the goods, services or image of that person provided that the
communication has been prepared independently of the person making it (and
for this purpose, a communication prepared without financial consideration is to
be taken to have been prepared independently unless the contrary is shown);”

I repeat the fact that these inclusions and in particular (b) is deemed necessary shows that without that exclusion persons independent of the product and without financial interest could be caught in the definition for “Commercial Communication” !!!

NO SUCH EXCLUSION is included in the proposed TPD legislation!!!

A lawyer can write a 1000 page draft and a single word can make it to your advantage or against …… I really lose the will to live trying to point out the dangers contained in the “Advertising” section of the UK’s proposed legislation …. Control information and you control everything in this modern world ……

 I can’t foresee the future but just one of many dangers, for an undefined ‘Commercial Communication’ defining ‘electronic cigarette advertisement’ is that any verbal or written communication that discusses a commercial product will breach the proposed legislation if the Government so wishes …… As I said, I don’t know the future, but when this Government uses such  broad undefined words to replace “Advertising” I become very suspicious.

It amazes me that some vapers consider that the Government is softening with their initial ‘light touch’ approach.  Ask yourself one question:  had they came in immediately with a ‘hard touch’ would vapers have fought harder as the implementation of the legislation loomed?  Will some vapers now relax until the end of the 6/12 months grace period looms?

The difference is that prior to the enactment of the legislation the proposed legislation can be challenged but just prior to the 6/12 month grace period the legislation will be LEGISLATION.

The ‘light touch’ on ‘advertising/Commercial Communication’ is pretty obvious …. introducing censorship when people have a voice is difficult (if civil liberties groups got wind, regardless of who the censorship was aimed, at there would be uproar).  But once the legislation has been enacted it is too late …. and if they do go on to act as draconian as the legislation permits, without communication, who do you tell?  Or, more importantly, HOW do you tell them????

I have a big mistrust of governments and with good cause. It has been nurtured from many years dealing with two governments,the UK and the Netherlands, through the European Commission of Human Rights.
This is why I notice these tricks – but hey, everyone enjoy the party for now
.

A final and important note …. Now is the wrong time to be considering positive aspects of this bad legislation.

The time to look for loopholes and positive spins is after the legislation has been enacted.

We only have months to try to do something about this bad legislation, we have forever to live with it.

By Szaxe Gill