Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Vapers: Your stories can save millions of lives!

Vapers fighting for their rights
photo credit: #VAP_IN_LIBERTY via photopin cc
After the TPD was approved on the 26th of February, a lot of vapers probably ask themselves: What now? Is the war over, or is there still something we can do? Do we have to live with and adapt to article 20 and accept the fact that we had a chance to save millions of lives, but the greed and ignorance of the EU Parliament effectively smashed the snowball we had rolling?

The short answer is: Yes, there is still something we can do. The battle was lost but the war is not over. The e-cigarette-industry and user-organizations are still fighting and people like Clive Bates and Dr. Michael Siegel continue their hard work, ripping the anti-ecig-movements arguments and so called "science" apart. And to me it seems like a lot of their fighting is paying off, slowly. I've got a feeling they are getting to the media and we're gradually seeing more reasonable journalism now than we did some months ago. The feeling I'm left with is that the media used to swallow everything the anti-ecig-movement fed them whole, and most media coverage of e-cigarettes we saw was focused around "scientific" reports that "proved" the dangers of e-cigarettes and stories of pets dying from chewing on e-liquid bottles. But I do feel that the tireless efforts of Dr. Siegel, Clive Bates and a lot of others, criticizing these articles, writing letters to the people appearing in the media and publicly proving them wrong has forced the media to dig deeper and report if not the whole story, at least more of it. I'm not saying we're there yet, but in my eyes, there is a positive tendency. And having the media reporting the whole story and not just the propaganda from the other side, will be incredibly important to win the war in the end. As it stands now, "normal" people (people that don't spend hours on the internet searching for information like yours truly) cannot turn to the health organizations for reliable information about this matter, so what is written in the media will be one of their strongest influences when they make up their opinion.

Another, maybe just as important, source of information about vaping is YOU! Well, most of you at least, as I think the poll I had some weeks ago told me that around 99% of my readers are vapers. In the heading of this post I asked the question: Can we, as vapers, still do something? Sharing your story is one of the most important things you can still do. I don't expect all vapers to spend a lot of time searching the internet for scientific data, writing long letters to politicians to convince them to do the right thing and engage heavily in the online debate. And we don't need to do that either. But share your story to the people around you. As I've stressed several times before: You are proof that vaping works, so go show people that. Your story matters. And once you've told your story, you might get some questions from smokers who wants to try this out. Make it easy for these people to take the step. You can make sure you already have a web-page and a starter kit recommendation for them, or even better (if you can afford it) buy a small starter kit you can give away or lend to them. For you, as a vaper, this requires minimum effort, but I bet most of you used some time researching before you bought your first kit and that might be what is stopping a lot of smokers from trying. The more smokers that switch to vaping before 2016 comes and the TPD is to be implemented into the laws of the member states, the more stories will be told, and the better the data collected regarding the efficiency and security of e-cigarettes will be. Your story is important to keep the snowball rolling. Have a look at what the EU writes in their press release after the TPD was approved:

Can the rules on e-cigarettes be revisited at a later date?
Monitoring and reporting on all developments relating to e-cigarettes – including market and health related developments – has been built into the new Directive. The information collected will provide a good overview of what additional legislative action, if any, is required, and the Commission will revisit the issue if necessary.

This means that the TPD can be changed if we can make sure health developments are shown to be very positive, and the market develops in a healthy way. And to do that we, the vapers, can make sure the market grows by telling our stories which will in turn show the EU the huge impact this will have on public health. And when this data emerges, I'm pretty sure well have Dr. Siegel and Mr. Bates here to make sure it appears in the media, making it VERY hard for the EU to ignore. Vapers: Your story can save millions of lives!

Another thing we can do, is to support and sign the European Free Vaping Initiative. As a Norwegian citizen I can't do this myself, since Norway is not a member of the EU, but I can help spreading the word. And so can everyone else, which is just as important as signing it yourself. It is very important to note that his is not just another petition. The EFVI is a European citizens' initiative, which means that if 1 million people sign this EFVI will have the opportunity to meet Commission representatives in person and to present their initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament. This means the EU is forced to listen to the vapers in this matter, something they have not been willing to do voluntarily. So if you're a EU citizen and haven't signed this, I urge you to do it now (sign here:  http://www.efvi.eu/), and then spread the word to as many people as possible... along with your vaping story.

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