“I feel that you will become the first vaper to reach the age of 100.”
Hon Lik to Terry Walker at GFN Warsaw
Proof That it Really Is NEVER to Late to Quit the Cigs
Words like inspirational and amazing are bandied about a bit too often these days but once in a while not even those words are enough to give someone the credit they richly deserve.
And this is so very true in the case of Terry Walker who at 85-years-young has more get up and go than folks a third of his age.
Those of you who’ve been with EcigClick for a while may remember Terry’s letter to Jonny – It’s Never Too Late – which was published back in 2014.
Since then Terry has taken vaping advocacy to a whole new level from advising the Government on vaping policy – promoting vaping through the media and culminating with a trip as a guest of the NNA to the recent Global Forum on Nicotine where he met the inventor of the e-cigarette and his vaping hero Hon Lik.
Terry is a retired scientist and through his work was able to change the way waste was managed in the UK and through those efforts became a Fellow of the Institute of Waste Management.
He then embarked on a successful career as a university lecturer and running his own consultancy firm with his last contract centering around Due Diligence on behalf of the DOD at the Royal Marine Commando camp Plymouth.
It’s a long interview but one of the most fascinating and most rewarding you’re likely to read particularly if you are interested in both vaping advocacy and indeed the effect vaping can have on your health.
So grab your vape – settle back and enjoy Terry Walker’s vaping and advocacy journey.
Tell us about your work history
I worked for Pilkington Glass for 28 years, seven under Alistair Pilkington in his team that developed the Float Glass Process, the greatest step forward in manufacture of flat glass.
Finished as Works Chemist in Pressed Glass Div. making TV glassware. Joined NW Water for 20 years, working to protect waters from pollution due to disposal of waste to landfill.
Using my statutory powers, under Control of Pollution Act 1974, I changed the way the Waste industry worked, from merely tipping waste, to managing waste, and its degradation products for life.
For this I was awarded Fellowship of Institute of Waste Management, and becoming a national expert in the field. – Took early retirement and set up own consultancy for another 6 years.
Aged 71 my last job was for the DOD, carrying out Due Diligence on the 92 hectare old Marine Commando camp, Plymouth. I also ran a Masters Course in Waste Management at 3 Universities.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I was born in Doncaster in 1931- so yes I am now 85 and I live in the Shropshire Hills, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. I have a most caring daughter Maxine nearby, 2 grandsons and am to become a great grandfather in Sept.
What is a typical day for you?
I am writing my memoirs, but after 40 pages had to put it on one side, too busy with advocacy work re. Vaping.
After lunch I go to my country club- read the paper, have a dance practice in the studio, read my book by the pool, and finish with a swim. Twice a week I play in Poker tournaments at a Casino. Volunteer with Age UK, transporting disabled to their day centre.
How did you first hear about vaping and e-cigarettes?
Many articles in the press and on-line told me about this new method of giving up smoking.
Why did you decide to take up vaping?
In 2012 after being diagnosed with borderline chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) following 69 years smoking strong, unfiltered cigarettes I decided to try vaping.
What was your first device and e-liquid and can you remember when you bought it?
No, I first tried an introductory kit from Green Smoke (no choice of flavour or nicotine level) did not enjoy, next, ditto with Clear Smoke.
I then discovered EcigClick review site and chose Jacvapour as it was very highly rated.
They had an extensive choice and as I had always enjoyed American Pall Mall I chose American Reds at max. strength of 24 mg/l nicotine, which tasted better, although a little harsh. I then ordered same at 18mg/l and found them perfect.
I have stayed with them ever since. I still use the original cig a-like device and have no interest in the 2nd/3rd generation devices using tanks/liquid as to me they look clumsy, too large and fiddly and seem wasteful due to their propensity to be used to emit huge clouds of vapour, which I feel has increased their popularity.
I have tried to figure why they are so popular and are lead to the conclusion that it is a “designer choice”.
At my age designer gear holds no interest to me; I much prefer mine as it is much closer to a “real cigarette”, more closely mimicking what I have used for years and fitting easily into my pocket, along with a spare battery and cartomizer.
But hey, everyone to their own choice.
I see you put specific scientific questions to your first vendors…why was that?
I put the questions to my supplier in order to counter arguments saying e-cigs were not subject to Q A. All their products now are made under IS0 9001.
Once you began vaping when did you begin helping others quit smoking?
My lung function test, on ceasing to use tobacco, was only 50% normal .On searching the net I could not find out the likely effect of vaping on my lungs.
As I have an enquiring, scientific mind I decided to have annual tests to find any improvement on my own body. I was not in any position to give advice at this stage.
After the next test showed an improvement to 80%, even my GP was amazed and that was when I decided I had something to say.
Things really took off for me after 4 years when readings stabilised at 88%. I was ready to be an advocate as my health had really improved. I wanted to spread the word amongst other smokers and managed to get articles, (with photographs) in the Shropshire Chronicle, Daily, Mail (twice) and Sunday Mercury (Birmingham).
I have just sent my 3rd letter to the Daily Mail reporting on the GFN17 (4th Global Forum On Nicotine 2017,) held last week in Warsaw, in which I concluded by challenging them to come off the fence in favour of vaping.
How many people do you think you’ve helped give up smoking?
I helped my best friend to change, but other than that I cannot say as my work has been carried out remotely, by the written word, so I have no way of knowing how many people I have reached.
I read your article on the NNA blog – what’s the story behind that?
The NNA contacted me shortly after reading my letter published on 28th March in the Daily Mail, asking me to collaborate in writing a blog for their website, which I was pleased to accept.
After publication, it was re-posted on the vapors.org site as news from the UK. On checking their web page I decided to join the charity as I felt I could do more within a group, than as a sole voice.
This all happened during the run up to their 4th Global Forum on Nicotine, held in Warsaw to be organised by Paddy Costall of KAC (Knowledge-Action –Change) who is also a trustee of NNA.
I was pleasantly surprised when they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, an invitation to attend, at their expense.
I understand the NNA took you to Warsaw where you met Hon Lik – Can you tell me about that trip
There were some 320 delegates from 54 countries and 35 papers spread over 2 days. I felt it was very successful and run admirably by KAC.
The high point for me was when I was introduced to Hon Lik, the Chinese pharmacist, who invented todays electronic cigarette, thus spawning a multi-billion £ industry.
As he only speaks Mandarin, we conversed for about 10 minutes via his interpreter. I told him of my vaping journey, and his parting comment was “I feel that you will become the first vaper to reach the age of 100.”
After he gave the opening speech (in Mandarin, but with English subtitles on screen), in which he told of the problems encountered in miniaturizing the device, so it would fit in the hand, we moved to the Press-Room for a photo op.
After photos of the obligatory handshake, one of the 8 photographers said “ They should be vaping”, so we withdrew our devices and I believe I protested that his was about 3 times as long as mine.
This provoked much laughter, admirably captured by the official photographer, Lukasz Bieniecki. Later I was asked to give interviews with around 8 foreign journalists, many on video.
What are your thoughts on the TRPR and the TPD – any improvements or things you’d like to see removed from the legislation?
The EU Tobacco Directive (Tobacco?) was enshrined into English law by the recent Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (related? what a weasel word) and restricts the strength/, volume of e-liquid sold within a bottle, also the volume in tanks/cartomizers which can legally be sold.
Luckily this does not affect me, personally, but many vapers are incensed at, what appear to be an infringement of their right of choice, for no good reason and will just cause annoyance. I cannot see any good reason for these restrictions which should be removed.
I feel, although that they will not stop vapers using this practice.
The rapid take up of smokers changing to vaping will only continue, albeit at a lower rate of increase, due to the parabolic nature of a graphical representation.
As Clive Bates pointed out in his presentation at Warsaw, in the UK around 3 million smokers in the UK have changed to vaping, as a safer way of enjoying their nicotine.
The ONS latest figures show smoking is now lower than ever at fewer than 16%, without regulation. No one has died. This is a prime example of people power. Have no doubt, vaping is here to stay.
As Del boy would say “You Know it Makes Sense”
The Science and Technology Select Committee looking into vaping might now be lost – what are your thoughts on that?
For the past few years I have written to bodies such as, WHO. CM Officer for UK. PH England, ASH, NICE etc. telling of my improvement in health, whilst still being able to support my nicotine dependency, with NO response.
On learning this year that the Science & Technology Select Committee (STSC) were about to hold an Inquiry into e-cigarettes I sent the results of my research to their chairman who replied within 2 hours describing it as very interesting.
I was then contacted by his Chief Clerk, who asked permission to use the reports as written evidence to the Committee. WOW what a difference and in the UK.
Of course I agreed, but the Committee had to be disbanded just as it was to commence its deliberations, due to the early General Election. I have since contacted the ex-chief clerk who has agreed to keep me informed of future developments in this area.
As a former scientist how do you think research into e-cigarettes is being handled?
Although much research into vaping is being carried out, it would appear that too much is aimed at de-bunking vaping and too little on its actual effect on real vapers like me.
As a vaping advocate/ambassador what’s the message you’d like to give to the vaping community – politicians – health professionals – scientists?
I believed we have just passed the tipping point re. The public acceptability of e-cigarettes.
More and more previous skeptics have come to realise the vast potential it can offer to Public Health when viewing the immense reduction in the number of smokers.
In my opinion I believe that e-cigarettes will be prescribed by the NHS within six years. To cater for this I have written a Harm Reduction Proposal setting out how this may be achieved in a financially sustainable manner whilst reducing the treatments (and costs) required in future incidents of tobacco related diseases.
I consider us very lucky in the UK that the British Government has adopted a laissez-faire attitude to vaping.
Your final thoughts on vaping and e-cigarettes
In conclusion, for those of us who cannot, or do not wish to give up our daily fix of nicotine, and still wish to enjoy the tactile, oral and physiological elements associated with smoking, There is no doubt that the electronic cigarette is a much safer alternative, being orders of magnitude safer.
It represent the most effective nicotine replacement therapy to date, as the user does not feel he has irrevocably stopped smoking, merely changed one cigarette for a much safer type. It is NEVER too late to give up tobacco.
Has Terry Inspired You To Get Involved in Vaping Advocacy?
Like I said at the start of this interview – sometimes words aren’t powerful enough to describe a person like Terry.
For a guy of his age his typical day puts me to shame let alone the amount of vaping advocacy work he’s doing.
A truly remarkable man and a gent in every sense of the word.
So if you’d like to know more about vaping advocacy and how to get involved then head over to the New Nicotine Alliance website and find out more – and of course make a donation to an extremely worthwhile and important cause.
That just leaves me to thank Terry very much on behalf of all of us at EcigClick – and I know Jonny is extremely proud that Terry found his perfect JacVapour device and e-liquid right here 🙂