Vaping and Voting Who Gets Your Vote?
As the UK General Election looms closer the political parties remain surprisingly silent over the great vape debate…
It seems vaping isn’t as important to any future Government as we might think.
And that’s despite recent reports that 3 million smokers in the UK have quit smoking thanks to e-cigarettes – saving the under pressure NHS budget millions of pounds.
So as the UK heads to this week’s General Election you’d think vaping whilst not front and centre in political ‘rhetoric’ on the campaign trial – it might feature somewhere.
And with 3 million voting vapers out there maybe one of the political parties might have thought we as a group were worth addressing – maybe even a few platitudes or promises thrown out like free vape bands at an Expo.
Total and utter silence.
I contacted ALL the political parties a couple of days after the General Election was announced and asked them a series of questions regarding their stance on vaping in general – the TRPR in a post Brexit Britain and anything they’d like to address to EcigClick’s healthy number of visitors.
And remember these political parties have hundreds of back room staff that are there to answer media questions – particularly during an election campaign.
I mean it’s not like I expected Mrs May or Mr Corbyn to drop everything and jot down a quick reply in between kissing babies and glad handing the ‘public’.
A little over four weeks later and not one reply has arrived – not one – which as a former reporter surprised me somewhat.
I mean when I worked in newspapers you couldn’t shut them up!
Oops I tell a lie – I received an automated response from the Labour Party lol.
Not even that terribly polite broccoli and alfalfa munching Green Party bothered to answer either.
Lies…Damned Lies and Statistics…
Undeterred, I contacted my local candidates and altered the letter slightly giving them the chance to either speak for themselves or from the party line.
That believe it or not was 2 weeks ago and again not one single reply – not even an automated one from my local Labour Party!
I have to say as someone that wears the badge of conspiracy theorist proudly – I find this lack of dialogue – ANY dialogue from the main parties around e-cigarettes highly suspicious.
I mean politicians love to blind us with statistics and even more statistics and just love to hear the sound of their own voices in print – online or especially on the TV.
So why the total media blackout?
One thing that does get politicians all excited are polls and statistics.
We’ll take a look at polls later – but first how about a few statistics.
Let’s take a look at just a couple.
If a smoker quits the tax loss to the Government is estimated at £11,000.
However, the gain of a person quitting the cancer cigs is a staggering £72,000 over that person’s lifetime – which includes saving on health care.
With approximately 9 million smokers in the UK and if they all quit smoking tomorrow that would mean a net saving to the Government [NHS etc] of a mind blowing £648 billion.
Now that’s a lot of hospitals – schools – infrastructure – indeed pretty much anything you could think of.
And hey let’s not forget the amount of lives saved thanks to vaping – it’s almost as if they don’t care about that…
The Vaping Industry is Booming World Wide
OK how about economic growth in the UK?
We’re stuck in a seemingly never ending rut of cuts and austerity and being told to ‘tighten our belts’ whilst the markets gamble away our taxes.
So let’s look at the markets shall we and guess what – the vape industry worldwide is touted as a shrewd investment for the stock brokers out there.
At the present time the vaping industry is estimated to be worth around $4billion and despite all the recent attempts to disrupt its growth – it may have slowed a little – but it continues to be a growth industry.
A couple of years ago the mighty Goldman Sachs told its investors to consider investment in the e-cigarette industry noting it as a market that could be on the ‘up’.
The entrepreneur website Talk Business forecasts the vape industry will grow at a rate of 22% over the next decade – in monetary terms equating to an increase in revenue of $50 billion.
Now that’s some growth.
That’s global so let’s look closer to home.
Here in the UK you only have to walk down any high street in any town to see the amount of shuttered up shops and failed businesses.
However, it’s a whole different story when you take a look a vape shops.
There are currently about 1,700 vaping shops of all sizes open for business in the UK – I have three in my town and at least half a dozen more in a 10 mile radius.
A little over a third of those shops – 650 or so – opened up in 2016 on the back of the devastating slump in both the global and UK economy.
So whilst other businesses were doomed – vape businesses boomed.
You’d think that an industry that was able to grow in times of so called austerity – was able to impact of the health of a population and offered much needed innovation and jobs would be supported by the politicians.
And what a great photo opportunity it would be a for a forward thinking – health minded – job creating politician to be seen chatting with any one of the local entrepreneurs up and down the country that has innovated – created jobs and done so much good for public health.
Political Silence Over Vaping
Instead and during what has been the quietest – dare I say weirdly quiet – General Election for an absolute age – we get silence.
He told us to put vaping and especially the TRPR ‘front and centre’ when we get the knock on the door from political candidates looking for our votes.
Where have they been?
I have noticed on social media that a lot of people from across the UK are surprised at the lack of ‘door knocking’ going on.
Like I said it seems to have been one of the quietest General Elections I’ve ever known.
I have a feeling that vapers to politicians are treated like those rebellious yet intelligent kids that ‘should be seen and not heard’ as my great-granddad used to say.
Seen that is alongside smokers outside pubs – hospitals and in the workplace.
If one political party had championed vaping from the start and had the balls to add political clout to the whole vape movement – I feel sure the others as sure is night and day would have pushed away their ties to Big Tobacco and embraced the vaping voters.
Though thinking about it those big tobacco companies don’t half spend a lot of cash in ‘political circles…’
Sadly, the only party that has supported vaping from the get go is UKIP and let’s face it now we’re on our way out of the EU they are a spent force to say the least.
Incidentally I couldn’t help but chuckle at being described as ‘right wing’ on an incredibly popular Facebook vaping group following my piece on How the TPD Will Be Enforced on Vaping in the UK.
For the record I have never voted Conservative in my life – despite a weight of peer pressure -I am a former member of Rock Against Racism – CND and campaigned hard [sometimes too hard lol] for the anti-Apartheid movement.
I still hold those values today – however now I’m older and wiser my personal political leanings are a mish-mash of Libertarian values and plain old common sense.
Not one political party manifesto comes close to my political views BTW 😉
Anyway enough about that.
Who Do You Want Negotiating Brexit?
I’d love to have been able to layout each political party’s thoughts and opinions on vaping and given you the facts on what each of them stands for.
However that hasn’t been possible.
And sadly political vaping party Vapers In Power haven’t been able to put one candidate up as leader Fergus Masson explained:
Unfortunately it doesn’t look as if ViP will be putting forward any candidates for the general election; a combination of modest membership and short notice made it a bit tricky to find anyone who was able to stand.
As for voting advice, we don’t really want to get into telling people what party to vote for, but the biggest issue facing British vapers is the TPD.
To get rid of it, it’s vital that Brexit happens and we’re not under the jurisdiction of the ECJ or bound by Single Market rules.
So in a nutshell it all boils down to Brexit and indeed the so called Grand Repeal Bill [what EU laws the UK keeps post Brexit].
To that end the two obvious future Governments – Lab or Con – are pretty tight lipped about any negotiations.
If Labour are elected on Thursday the chief negotiator would be Sir Keir Starmer MP – a former barrister – former head of the Crown Prosecution Service and Director of Public Prosecutions.
And in the case of a Tory government we’d get the three ‘Brexiteers’ Boris Johnson – David Davies and Liam Fox.
I know who I’d prefer lol.
So in any future TPD /TRPR Brexit negotiations – what would we as vapers want to see?
The excellent Independent British Vape Trade Association [IBVTA] launched a pre-election manifesto of its own and very good it is too.
They call upon the future UK Government to:
- Remove restrictions on bottle sizes
- Remove restrictions on tank sizes
- Remove restrictions on nicotine strengths
- Revert to the advertising restrictions set out in the Committee on Advertising Practice guidance, originally published on the 9th October 2014
- Only have nicotine warning labels on products that actually contain nicotine at point of sale
- Continue to resist EU attempts to introduce an EU-wide excise regime for vape products. After the UK has the left the EU, the Government should continue to oppose any calls for additional taxation on vape products, and
- When negotiating the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, do not agree to any deal where the UK is still bound by EU tobacco control policy, including the TPD and the EU’s tobacco excise regime.
Well that certainly covers it nicely!
Speaking at the launch of the manifesto Fraser Cropper, Chairman of IBVTA said:
The UK really does have the potential to become a global leader in vaping; both in terms of shaping the global policy environment, and also generating exports and boosting the UK economy.
This tremendous opportunity will only be realised if the regulatory and fiscal environment in which our industry operates is proportionate.
If the next government works with the independent vape industry to deliver robust, proportionate, and fit for purpose regulation, then vaping will flourish and achieve its full potential in providing a viable and significantly less harmful alternative to tobacco products as well as providing a significant and much needed boost to the UK economy.
Let’s just hope that whoever wins on Thursday starts to take vaping and most definitely we the vapers and the vaping industry seriously.
This is not just about bigger tanks and larger bottles of e-liquid – this is about lives and it’s about time the politicians listened.
On a Lighter Note
Anyone who read last weekend’s Vaping News might have spotted the Totally Wicked ‘election e-liquid’ piece.
They have introduced a range of flavours that represents the UKs political parties and are using the number of sales of each bottle as a forecast as to who might win.
If it sounds a little daft to those of you who prefer polls from Gallop and other pundits – then think on.
At the last General Election the Totally Wicked poll said Cameron and the Tories would get in – this against all the so called political experts – and of course he did.
The five flavours are:
- Corbyn’s Momentum Madness (Strawberry Jam)
- Nuttall’s Cracker (Coconut Macaroon)
- May’s Brexit Brunch (Blueberry and Raspberry Yoghurt)
- Sturgeon’s Fandabidozi (Iron Brew)
- Farron’s Fightback (Kendal Mint Cake)
And at the time of writing this piece Corbyn remains ahead but May is closing fast so it will be very interesting to see the final Totally Wicked result!
Maybe Mr Dimbleby should sneak a peek too 😉
Choose your flavour and cast your vote at Totally Wicked.
Footnote: this has been an opinion piece and the views both political or otherwise are the authors and his alone 😉