Vapers might give tobacco and smoking a bad press, but in general I have found little sign that they agree with the banning of tobacco or institutionalised stigmatisation of smokers – of course there are many bad apples in the barrel who like to mouth off in online comments, but let's look at this rationally. They have found an alternative to smoking that works for them, and then find that the health authorities wish to ban their preferred solution to the smoking issue. They find that the health authorities don't want them to help themselves but to accept help from official channels that is worse than useless and guaranteed to keep many would-be quitters smoking.
This makes a grim picture: not of health authorities that work for the good of health, but of health authorities that work to an agenda that is not altogether clear, but one suspects is contaminated by authoritarianism and perhaps commercial considerations. Who knows, but anyway it's contaminated by irrelevant factors. There is a discussion here about it between Rose (a vaper) and Terry of the Cancer Council of Western Australia. Rose has written an angry letter to the CCWA and now writes, more calmly, to counter Terry's response.
The main points: (1) Terry, writing on behalf of a cancer charity, does not mention cancer in relation to e-cigs, yet his organisation calls for an e-cig ban. Why does he want to ban a product that has not been linked to cancer? This goes beyond the remit of his charity. (2) In common with other authorities wishing to restrict e-cigs, Terry refers to e-cigs as smoking cessation tools, whereas they are in fact an alternative to smoking – recreational products, not medicinal or therapeutic ones. The law that Terry wants to use to ban e-cigs is called the Therapeutic Goods Act, and it does not cover recreational products. (3) Contrary to Terry's assertions about the ineffectiveness of e-cigs 'as smoking cessations tools', Rose points out the enormous popularity of e-cigs and internet presence in the form of user discussion groups. They are truly an alternative to smoking popularised by users rather than by those claiming to act in their interests. (4) Terry recommends conventional smoking cessation medications, as further proof that he is not paying attention to people's preference and experience about what works for them. (5) To Terry's concern about the long-term effects of e-cigs, Rose offers herself as a medical guinea pig, in the meantime pointing out the documented differences between conventional tobacco and e-cigs in terms of carcinogens and other toxins.
Rose compares the CCWA's head-in-the-sand approach to e-cigs as follows:
an organisation such as a Cancer Council failing to notice the current storming of the tobacco market by e-cigarettes, is like the Australian Bureau of Meteorology failing to notice the formation of a Category 5 cyclone just off the coast of Queensland.I think the observation is apt. (I hope that e-cigs will also help to destroy what remains of tobacco control – at least its worst excesses, and there are very many of these.) She also says:
Those of us who use these products generally experience a profound gnosis that the era of smoking tobacco is coming to an end. Ecigs are to smoking what the motor car was to the horse and buggy.You may or may not agree with this. But it is a prediction of a trend, not an avowed intent to destroy the tobacco industry. Elsewhere Rose states:
Tobacco control is one thing. Placing prohibitive taxes on smokers, defacing their packaging with theatrical disease pictures, and concurrently preventing them from accessing a safer alternative does nothing but serve the lust for vengeance of anti-smoking zealots, and drive more and more smokers to the black market. The recent KPMG report shows that illegal tobacco sales have risen from 1.4% share of the overall market to 10.4% in a single year.The argument has moved away from the tedious issue of whether passive smoking causes cancer or not to what the hell is tobacco control up to, actively trying to prevent people from looking for their own preferred alternatives to smoking. They say 'the best thing you can do for your health is to stop smoking', but when people take this advice they are hampered and told they're doing it wrong. This is a sound and well researched argument – well done, Rose!