Perhaps because of a common language, there is a lot of knowledge transfer between US, Australian, Canadian and UK bloggers.
Campaigning tips are regularly shared, efforts to ban e-cigarettes have been opposed and the countering of misinformation has involved enthusiasts from all four nations. We may not be able to sign each others petitions, but we have certainly made sure they are spread around the web. And from everywhere to Facebook to forums, from Reddit to Google Plus, vapers are offering each other encouragement, advice and campaigning tips.
(At one point, Professor Carl Phillips, then based in Canada, even offered to present directly to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – although when the MHRA heard, they suprisingly changed their consultation dates!)
Unfortunately, this cooperation does not seem to extend to vapers of the European Untion. Yet, nowhere is this co-operation more imperative than in Europe.
In an EU directive pieced together by an EU commissioner since fired for alleged corruption – a minister who allegedly told a tobacco company that a bribe was necessary because approving reduced harm alternatives was “political suicide” – the EU is proposing an effective ban on e-cigarettes by banning eliquid with a strength higher than 0.4%.
In the UK, a campaign against this is being advised by former director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) UK, Clive Bates.
Under his direction, UK vapers are writing to the MPs and MEPs to express their dismay at the move, and urging politicians to lobby on his behalf.
A number of vapers have already received positive replies and promises to oppose this in the EU parliament.
Yet knowledge of this campaign seems limited to English speaking vapers.
Indeed, when I mentioned this to French blogger, Ghyslain Armand, it was the first he had heard of it.
Imagine how much better it would be if MEPs in EVERY EU country received letters, emails and calls from vapers who are desperate not to be forced back to tobacco cigarettes.
What to do:
It is imperative that we work together to foil the well oiled, well financed and money-motivated campaign to ban the e-cigarette in favour of NRT aids.
Some moves are already taking place. I’m in contact with some French and Greek vapers, and I have seen a call to action in Portugal. But more needs to be done.
Here are a few ideas of what we could do:
- Explain to vapers in foreign countries what we can do to fight a ban on e-cigarettes.
- Liaise with electronic cigarette communities abroad where possible – there are usually a good number who can speak English and translate calls to action into their own language.
- Point foreign vapers towards Clive Bate’s post on fighting the European Union ban.
- Emphasise the urgency – Clive says we need to get responses in before the 25th February, when the ENVI committee of the European Parliament is meeting to discuss the directive proposal
- Encourage suppliers abroad to contact their customers and explain that electronic cigarettes are under threat, and how to counter this threat!
Any other ideas? Let me know in the comments!
James Dunworth has been writing about electronic cigarettes and tobacco harm reduction for the Ashtray Blog since 2008, and is a co-author of a University of Alberta study: Electronic Cigarettes (E Cigarettes) as potential harm reduction products.