America Should Follow The UK’s Lead On Vape Policy – Make 2019 The Year YOU Support Vaping Advocacy Groups
There’s a major divide in vaping and I don’t mean the fallout from that inane and quite frankly cringingly puerile VoopooGate video.
If you don’t know what I’m on about then check YouTube and social media – I’m not going into detail as the flames of stupidity don’t need to be fanned or fed.
Forget pathetic if a touch damaging stunts like that – what I’m talking about has far greater significance to the future of vaping than a silly Welsh boy acting [badly] like a buffoon hoping for his 15 minutes of fame and notoriety.
The great divide is the polar opposite stance on vaping by the politicians and indeed health organizations in the US and the UK. And the way things are going this is a far more serious and long lasting threat to vaping than anything we’ve seen before.
Sure the whole TPD and TRPR thing was a belly blow to our thriving industry – but here in the UK we might have took a knee and breathed deep – but we stood up and have pretty much made it to the last round.
I just wish the vape community as a whole would show the same amount of righteous indignation for real issues that affect vaping rather than gather the pitchforks and call for who’s head is anti-flavour of the month – pun intended.
I wrote at length about the pending arrival of the TPD – a handful of vapers listened and tried to support advocacy groups such as the NNA – but the vast majority didn’t give a shit or were oblivous… However when the day dawned the majority jumped up and down screaming ‘unfair unfair’ mostly lamenting the 2ml tank capacity max and of course 10ml bottle sizes.
Trust me had it not been for the NNA in particular – the UK would be a vacuum today for all things vape.
Many established vapers it seems have a classic case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted mentality and luckily for us here in the UK at least advocacy and industry groups have made a stand on vaping and we should be bloody thankful.
Little Point Preaching To Converted
You see rather than preaching to the choir, groups such as the NNA – UKVIA and the IBVTA have taken the fight for the right to vape publicly and to powerful health organizations and indeed UK politicians. We might not have to like some of the policies from some of those groups – but they’ve put vaping front and centre of UK health policy and very successfully might I add.
The choir in this case is the tiny and I mean tiny percentage of the UK’s 3million vapers who I’d class as enthusiasts or even hobbyists. Sure they’ve quit smoking but now vaping has also become a hobby with collectables – the need to get the next new big thing and indeed the need to experiment with wicks coils etc.
It really is a smallish percentage of the 3 million out there – the rest are pretty much oblivious to all the drama [fake and otherwise] – the infighting – the backstabbing and more importantly the hard – mostly unpaid work of groups like I’ve just mentioned. It is these industry and advocacy groups that mean your mom and dad who’s smoked for 40 years [like me] can quit and enjoy puffing on their new starter kit living longer into the bargain.
All this talking among ourselves in little social media enclaves about all things vape are enjoyable pastimes but these are closed groups with everyone pretty much singing from the same hymn sheet. Take a ridiculous fake newspaper story about vaping shriveling your bollocks for instance and for a day or so jokes will be made some points will be discussed and then into the bin it goes. No impact made other than to slap ourselves on the back and get the rush of a few likes for our post.
Meanwhile Joe Public reads – thinks vaping is dangerous and moves on and new vapers either quit or return to smoking or smokers decide to not even start. ..and as you know here in the UK fake vape news has become a daily cycle of BS it seems.
What we needed was a concerted effort from vaping organizations to get the message out via the media and most importantly via the politicians. This means not only public opinion could be changed or at least swayed, but the powers that be would stand up and start listening to the mantra ‘vaping is safer than smoking’.
Because – and lest ye forget – that’s what vaping boils down to. Forget that bright new shiny kit – remember back to when you and you alone made the decision to quit with a cheap starter kit…vaping first and foremost is a healthy alternative to smoking – simple as.
And as former smokers surely we want the rest of those on the cancer sticks to follow us to healthier lives and a far more enjoyable nicotine experience?
So I’ll step off my soapbox for a moment and look at the polar differences between the UK Government and health organizations and their counterparts in the US.
Trust me IF the US advocacy groups don’t get off their arses soon – America could not only ban flavoured e-liquids – but vaping in general. The writing is on the wall…history has shown American politicians are swayed by outraged emotional and not fact based arguments and of course they also seem to enjoy the ‘massaging’ from lobbyists…*coughs*
If the US vape industry falls it won’t just be the health of American vapers and smokers that falls with it – jobs will be lost – a booming global industry will falter – Big Tobacco and Pharma will reign supreme again and the aftershocks will impact on the rest of the world.
The Current State of The Vape In America
The Food and Drug Administration in the US – the FDA – has an aching hard on for all things vape and they are not pussyfooting around either.
Commissioner Scott Gotlieb was a one-time HUGE supporter of vaping however he buckled under pressure from anti vape groups and did a complete 180.
His first tough talking shots from the hip were aimed at profiteering e-liquid companies using cartoon and childlike images for their marketing. This he said was aimed at hooking a whole new generation of kids into becoming nicotine addicts. It was stupid of those companies but I doubt any of them purposefully set out to hook in the kids…and anyway surely that should be down to shop owners to police sales and of course parents to be er… parents…
Suddenly the whole thing exploded with anti-tobacco and vape groups calling for all sweet flavoured e-liquids to be banned ‘to save the poor kiddies’. This is of course all bollocks and not even this cynical old sod thought anything would come from it.
Enter those virtue signalling clowns in San Francisco where the local government decided flavoured e-liquids was as big a threat to their populace as terrorism and banned ALL flavoured e-liquids. Hey pump money into fresh needles for the junkies – but fuck those ex-smokers enjoying a toot on a strawberry vape.
The first domino in the bid to eradicate vaping as we know it over the pond had fallen and more are already rocking – New York possibly looks next to fall especially if zillionaire Bloomberg has his way.
Bad News – Great For Profits
If flavour bans weren’t enough – along comes the rise of the JUUL. This according to the FDA was the ISIS to health – a dire threat to the nation’s youth – a clear and present danger that needed to be eradicated.
Way back last year I noticed an upsurge in anti-JUUL stories all across the US media and my old journalist antennae tingled. No news is bad news I thought and watched as day after day week after week bad news JUUL stories flooded in – meanwhile the company’s profits not only soared but exploded.
I remarked on this in a news article suggesting that maybe the JUUL marketing team was enjoying the media doing their work for them…me a cynic nah 😉
Enter the caped anti-vape crusader Gottlieb and in a bid to placate outraged venom spitting soccer mom groups and of course the anti-tobacco and vape lobby – he called time on the rise of the JUUL.
Enter Big Tobacco and JUUL having a sit down with Gottlieb – and in one set of meetings vaping in the US was thrown under the bus – in JUUL’s case literally. Despite coffers filled to overflowing with cash JUUL decided not to dual it out with the FDA and not only capitulated – but positively kissed ass by removing ALL their flavoured pods for sale except of course from their own website – talk about a closed shop…
Now the power of Big Tobacco has bought into the JUUL brand [approx. 45% of shares apparently] and with America heading towards becoming a tobacco and menthol only flavoured e-liquid zone, you can see who the winners are and it’s certainly NOT the health of the nation.
2018 saw the opening shots in the bid to wipe vaping off the face of America – or at least as it stood in 2017. 2019 may see a surge in anti-vape rhetoric and legislation and with the US advocacy scene looking more and more like a toothless lapdog rather than watchdog – my vision for 2020 is dire to say the least…
How different the government and health authorities are here in the UK…
The Current State of The Vape In the UK
The build up to the implementation of the TPD /TRPR passed by pretty much unnoticed by most vapers and indeed the wider public at the time.
However had it not been for the NNA in particular – vaping as we know it now here in the UK would be very different. Sure they couldn’t get rid of tank capacity and levels on nicotine – but trust me the EU and UK were gunning for those high powered mods.
And despite a barrage of scare stories and fake sexed up ‘scientific report and studies’ the advocacy groups kept their cool and took the fight for the right to vape direct to the UK’s, at the time, disinterested politicians – all of whom were looking to rubber stamp the EU’s draconian proposals or even ban it outright.
Just like over the pond our politicians are pretty much led by the nose by the media – big business and to some extent the establishment…a case of:
This little upstart called vaping is threatening the status quo old boy and my chums in Big Tobacco and Pharma are getting nervous…we need to do something…
However thanks to those advocacy groups, the politicians and indeed influential health organizations began to listen. The powerful Science and Technology Committee in particular decided to get to the bottom of this vaping thing once and for all.
This was not overnight – far from it. Slowly but surely and thanks to persistent and meaningful fact based pressure from the advocates, groups such as Cancer Research UK began funding proper research with the results proving beyond doubt that vaping IS healthier than smoking.
Enter Public Health England not only agreeing vaping is 95% safer but using it front and centre as a way to get the UK’s smokers off the cancer sticks.
Since then such luminaries as the Royal College of Physicians – British Heart Foundation – Cancer Research UK and in general the NHS has all put their formidable weight behind the simple message vaping saves lives.
I wrote last year that in 2018 the UK will become the beacon of light for all things vaping and so it’s proved to be…what a difference an ocean can make.
Vaping Advocacy Makes For Strange Bedfellows
If it’s to save vaping in the US then America needs to follow the UK’s lead for a change…it’s really that simple.
In particular the apparently toothless watchdogs – groups like CASAA the AVA and SFATA need to forget any petty policy differences and combine. They need to go on a media blitz promoting the stance made by the UK and get into those closed meetings the FDA seems fond of holding to discuss vaping policy.
Let’s face it during his ‘research’ into the so called teen vape epidemic Gottlieb spoke with four major tobacco firms and JUUL – who have now pretty much thrown the independent vape towel in and are part of the corporations…no advocacy groups unlike here in the UK.
They need to make strange bedfellows too – as in using the influence – power and indeed cash of those Big Tobacco and Pharma companies to help save the vape over there. That might sound like a contradiction, but the writings on the wall – the big two are muscling into the vape industry and are making huge gains…money matters none more so than over the pond.
Look…here in the UK the UKVIA in particular has made a huge impact on the political vaping scene and policy making – and they include members from both tobacco and the vape industry – like I said strange bedfellows. Sure some of the policies are shall we say a little against the grain – short fills for instance. But combined they’ve become a formidable force for the good…and importantly politicians are listening…and that is of HUGE importance as we on these shores can see.
I know there’s an old adage that inviting a snake into your house runs the risk of getting bitten – but it’s a calculated risk for the good that you keep at arms-length with a wary eye on when or if that snake is gonna turn round and bite you. By simply talking with the so called enemy it’s amazing what good could come out of it…it’s working here very well indeed…why not in America?
Because trust me if vaping falls in America…the rest of the world will follow…investments and development will stop – we’ll all be vaping on awful tobacco flavours on kits that have seen better days and before you know it vaping will be thrown into the box marked ‘past fads’ .
So the next time you post a ‘hand check’ or comment on a post about this or that’s latest vape drama – maybe take a moment to share a post from say the NNA or a positive vape story to your family/friends and wider public – you’d be amazed the effect it could have on that one smoker you know thinking of quitting.
I’ve said before we’re all vape ambassadors and we need to get the message out to the wider public…not just to the choir…especially in America that vaping saves lives.
And by the way and a little food for thought…
IF the UK gets rid of that 2ml tank and 10ml juice capacity post Brexit – it will be down to the work behind the scenes of the advocacy and industry groups.
Show them the love – give them support and let’s make 2019 the year the UK really does not only shine in the world of vaping but leads from the front.