Sunday, 16 February 2020

Petitions, Petitions




A recent blog entry on Simon Clark’s Taking Liberties website brought to my attention the poor response that a European Union petition entitled ‘Vaping Is Not Tobacco’, which Simon reported that has apparently attracted less then 50,000 signatures across the whole European Union (which was, until recently, made up of 28 countries), with just 391 UK signatures.

I am not surprised for a number of reasons.

Firstly, because the UK is leaving the European Union, most UK-based vapers would probably view it as not applicable in the UK.

Secondly, this petition was obviously not widely known amongst the Vaping community. I was completely unaware of it, despite the fact that I closely monitor what is happening with legislation to do with Vaping and Smoking. So quite where the existence of this publication was distributed is a mystery to me.

Thirdly, the Vaping community has splintered into a number of competing groups. The result is that is very hard to coordinate petitions of this type as different groups seem reluctant to support petitions started by another group.

As many of you will know, I was involved in vaping advocacy as far back as 2012. This was a time when vaping was still in its infancy and yet to break into the mainstream the way it has in recent years. However, it is also the time that vaping was first starting to draw the attention of Political and Health Authorities and when the real fight to save vaping really began.

Despite the fact that we vapers were few and far between in those days, we maintained a siege mentality and would rush to head off any threat to vaping through protests and petitions. Some successful, some less so. The point was, we were not prepared to simply roll over and let the less informed authorities have their way.

It was also the time when I found myself as the figurehead for both a campaign and a petition – the ‘Save eCigs’ campaign to stop the then Health Minister for Wales – Mark Drakeford – from steamrollering a public vaping ban as a subset of the larger Public Health Wales Bill.

It was through this campaign that I learned just how hard it is to coordinate a petition and get people to sign it. I did everything within my power to get the petition as widely known around Wales as possible. From (almost coercing) various Vape vendors to prominently display my flyers, endlessly promoting the petition on social media, keeping all the ecig forums that I could find up to date with the progress of the petition and appearing on vape-related Youtube channels like Vapour Trails TV.

Despite everything I did and tried, that petition only ever got a tiny percentage of Welsh Vapers to sign it. I was utterly soul-destroying.

The one upside of the campaign (and petition) was that it opened doors to my being to get my face in front of the AM’s in the Welsh Assembly to put our side of the story to them. It enabled me to get the true facts and figures in front of these AM’s, instead of them only hearing the biased and ill-informed propaganda that was being peddled by Drakeford.

Admittedly, very few Labour politicians gave me the time of day. But many of the opposition AM’s from the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats (they had a lot more AM’s in those days) and Plaid Cymru were open to speaking to me and my colleagues and many of them were very supportive as a result.

Ultimately, our campaign to save vaping from being banned in public in Wales was successful. We managed to defeat the bill (albeit by a very narrow margin) and Welsh vapers are still free to vape in public spaces to this very day as a result.

However, something else I learned from fronting that campaign was that critics can be found in every walk of life, You would not believe the number of times I would be told by ‘armchair warriors’ that I am doing it all wrong, or that I didn’t know what I was talking about. Whilst I used to get a lot of supportive emails, and messages through social media, I would also get a lot of bile and criticism. Like most people, I am only human and so this type of bile and criticism used to get me down. Whilst I may not ever have shown it outwardly, inwardly I would often question why on earth I bothered.

In the end, I simply had enough of the criticism and bile and chose to walk away from it all. I was not alone. For those Vapers who were around way back in 2012, just ask yourself how many of the advocates with whom you became familiar are still around to be seen or heard ?

THIS, is the reason why the Vaping Is Not Tobacco petition failed. People simply got fed up of the criticism and back-stabbing to be found in the vaping community and walked away.

This is one of the many reasons why I have the utmost awe & respect for the NNA. There are people involved in the NNA who have been there from the start and are still there fighting for vapers across the world. These are the people who were made of stronger stuff than I and who could take the back-stabbing and criticism and, in some cases, even thrived on it. But please, do not take these people for granted. The influential advocates from yesteryear have turned their backs and walked away. The last thing the vaping community needs is for these good folk in the NNA to decide they have had enough and walk away.

There are still many battles to be fought to keep Vaping, and no doubt there will many more to come. That’s why we need them.

Don’t be an armchair critic. Support the NNA.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Science - The Neverending Search For The Truth



Science is a constant. The whole point of science is that it is meant to prove that something is either right, or it is wrong. There is no in-between level. Science is not concerned with such things. In science, something is either correct, or it is not. In essence, science is the search for the truth.

The truth does not care about funding, cost, sponsorship, business interests, needs, ideology, beliefs or wants. Science therefore, does not care about any of those human constructs with which we are familiar.

Of course, when somebody does not properly understand the science, then mistakes can/will be made. In such cases, that person will rarely find the truth. He/She will simply find what they believe to be the truth. But that is not failure of science. It is a failure of the human - who did not properly understand the science (or is speaking from a position of ignorance).

We hear a great deal about scientific theory, and many people believe that scientific theory is the truth, especially when they hear it from what they perceive to be a reputable scientist. But they are incorrect. Scientific theory is exactly what the words say, it is a theory. Until somebody scientifically proves that theory through a thorough experiment or application, then it remains an unproven theory. That is, it is not the truth. It has not been proven to be the truth.

Accordingly, anybody who calls himself a scientist but who does not seek the truth is not a scientist at all. In fact, it would be fair to describe such a person as a fantasist or propagandist. A true scientist will only ever concern himself with the truth. The whole truth. Nothing but the truth.

So why am I talking about this ?

It is due to the myriad of newspaper articles that have appeared over the Christmas period on a whole range of things. There has been climate warning scare stories, scare stories on foods, on fizzy drinks, on alcohol. You name it, there have been claims and counter claims from different sections of science. So who is right ?

Let’s take climate warning. Nary a day passes without some warning about climate change/global warming. I read those stories (and even read the so-called scientific papers that inspired those stories). In the vast majority of cases that I have read, we are not talking about any scientific fact. No, in most cases we are talking about scientific THEORY.

As I mentioned above, a theory is NOT the truth. It cannot be the truth as it has not been proven to be the truth. In some case it is almost impossible to prove a theory because the necessary ingredients/environments do not exist or are hard to come by. So what happens is that a scientist publishes a new theory and then releases it into the wild, and the newspapers (looking for their next big story) publish it as fact. Newspapers, as we know, are more interested in readership (or clicks, if online), than they are in the truth. But because some scientists has theorised about something (such as climate change), then the newspapers publish it as fact. They do so because they know people will read it and believe it because it came from a scientist (often, though not always, backed up by the person having Doctor or Professor in front of their name).

This is how people with agendas influence the public to buy in to their agenda. They push out what they know is an unproven theory to the mass media, and then let the mass-media do all the work for them. Therefore, an unproven theory magically becomes scientific fact overnight.

The truly alarming part though is how many so-called scientists are actually influenced in the same way as the public. As scientists, they ‘should’ be trained to be sceptical about anything presented in such a way until they see the proof. But they do not. They simply see what they want to see because that is what they believe. Their own bias prevents the truth from being found. It is not the truth, it is a belief or conviction on the part of that person that blinds them from the truth, from the actual science. Unfortunately, such people invariably have the ear of the politicians and when that unproven theory is placed in the ears of politicians by somebody (as before, usually with Doctor or Professor be fore their name), then that theory is the truth to those politicians and we the public end up with legislation based on theory rather than the truth. As we all know, that brings (often tragic) unintended consequences.

I have watched open-mouthed at this very process in action over in the USA during the last few weeks. The American Vaping Advocates have been reacting and tweeting with alarm at everything that has transpired since the CDC declared that Vaping was causing lung disease, due to the CDC’s (initial) inability to search for the truth. The truth was that all the lung problems being experienced in the USA was not due to Vaping, but rather it was to do with the illicit THC cartridges that are easily obtainable on the black market in the USA. Nothing whatsoever to do with vaping.

But what happened was that the usual suspects (I will not call them scientists as they have been proven time and time again to be anything but scientists) suddenly began gleefully shouting about all the scientific THEORIES that were abounding to support their ideologies that vaping was bad.

As mentioned above, a theory is NOT the truth. Until it is proven, it remains a theory and therefore NOT the truth.

In fairness to the CDC, they did belatedly prove the above mentioned THEORIES as being incorrect and published a statement that confirmed that all the lung issues being reported was due to illicit THC cartridges being bought on the black market. In essence, they disproved the theories and therefore found the truth – that there is no proven danger from Vaping. That, my friends, is science. Unfortunately, when they did finally publish their findings, it was far too little and way too late. The horse had already well and truly bolted.

Amazingly though, there are STILL so-called scientists pushing out the proven-false theory as truth, and it is the usual suspects that are doing so. I do not need to name them, you already know who they are. Accordingly, the politicians (the Senators, Councillors, Legislators – whatever you Americans call them) have been swayed by these pseudo-scientists (propagandists) and the result is that many States are STILL trying to introduce legislation banning vaping (or at least flavours) and our American Vaping Advocates are having a very hard time of it fighting these attempts at bans.

In the UK, we are fortunate now in that most of the prominent bodies are fully supportive of Vaping, because they chose to examine the proven science. They chose to look for the truth and based their advice on what they found. Of course, we do still have many propagandists in the UK too (unfortunately, some of these also have Doctor or Professor before their names too), but they are few and far between. All you have to remember is that the ‘Bobblegoms’ of this world are NOT scientists, they are propagandists. They do not understand the science behind vaping and therefore cannot ever arrive at the scientific truth.

Science – the unending search for the truth, not the Dollar !!

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

A Voter Looking For A Cause




What a complete and utter clusterfuck UK politics has become. It has been going downhill for many years, but since the UK voted to leave the European Union, we have been able to clearly see the disconnect between what the people want and what our so-called ‘betters’ in Government actually think we want. Actually, it is far more than a disconnect, it is actually that the Politicians are scared stiff of actually having to make a decision for themselves and many more of them are scared that their noses are going to be forced from the very lucrative trough they all have their noses in.

It has got so bad that I now consider myself to be a Voter Looking For A Cause. Politics in the UK is so fucked up that I really cannot see any party that I would seriously consider voting for. Furthermore, the UK as a whole voted to Leave the European Union. Yet these same politicians seem determined to deny the will of the people and keep us in the EU. If that happens, then democracy in this country is well and truly dead and I question whether it is even worth casting a vote at all.

So, in my simplistic way (and to stop this blog entry from becoming an essay), I will go through the reasons why each of the parties cannot currently secure my vote.

At a UK level, we see a Labour party that will promise anything to get in to power, knowing full well that they will be unable to deliver any of it. The so-called ‘progressive’ party is riddled with instances of anti-semitism at every turn, and has some serious racists in their midst who seem to delight at trying to stoke up racial hatred at every turn (you know who they are). They continually roll-out vaccuous non-entities (who somehow got elected as MP’s) spouting completely incomprehensible policies, only to find that the next vaccuous non-entity they roll out completely contradicts what the previous non-entity has just said on National TV or in the MSM. Nobody has a clue what Labour stands for or what it wants. The only thing one can say with certainty is that Labour does NOT represent those upon which the party was formed over a century ago – the Working Class. The only people Labour seem to represent these days are the 'Metropolitan Elite'.That they consistently trail the Conservatives in opinion polls just shows that the people have no idea what Labour stands for either. Any party that cannot overhaul the complete ineptitude being shown in the Conservative Party over Brexit is in serious trouble.

Speaking of the Conservatives, where do we even start with this lot. Elected on a manifesto of taking us out of the European Union, they seem to spend much of their time consistently shooting themselves in the foot. It started with the installation of Theresa May as Leader of their party (and consequently as the Prime Minister), following the resignation of the equally useless (and vaccuous) David Cameron. Who could have believed that Theresa May would go on to make Cameron look like an absolute genius in comparison. One of her first acts as Prime Minister was to give platitudes such as ‘Brexit Means Brexit’ and promises to deliver the will of the people. All things which she would go on to hamstring herself at every turn. She started by calling a General Election which resulted in her instantly losing the comfortable majority that the Conservatives had previously held and then spent the rest of her time desperately thrashing this way and that as she fought a rear-guard action against circumstances entirely of her own making. Her biggest mistake was allowing party members who had campaigned on a manifesto of leaving the EU, to completely ignore the will of their constituents and campaign against May to try and frustrate the Brexit process. The result is a Conservative Party that is likely to be completely crucified at the next General Election (whenever that may be).

Of the other parties, little better can be said.

The Liberal Democrats have proved to be neither Liberal or Democrats. They came out all guns blazing demanding that the will of the people be overturned and that we stay in the European Union. Then they campaigned vociferously for a so-called ‘Peoples Vote’, or a second referendum as it should be known. This resulted in the almost complete and utter wipe-out of the Liberal Democrats in ANY Government – Local or National. Now they are more often than not just an irrelevant side-note for most National TV and MSM reports. A joke to the majority of the country.

UKIP dramatically and spectacularly imploded as well once the Brexit vote was delivered. Nigel Farage stepped out of the hot-seat and ushered in a dramatic civil war in their ranks which has seen them lurch so far over to the right that they are practically out of the picture. Leaders have come and gone, whilst members have deserted the party in their droves. It has got to the point that I would imagine that few people can even name any of the elected politicians they still have in their ranks.

The SNP are in an unusual position as Scotland actually voted to remain in the EU. Therefore, they are one of the few parties that operate at a (UK) National level that can genuinely claim to be representing their people. Though even there, I am aware of large numbers of Scottish Nationalists who did NOT vote to remain in the EU. The problem that the SNP have (IMHO) is the person who leads them. I don’t know what it is about Nicola Sturgeon, but I just want to turn the TV off whenever that woman appears. She too comes out with complete vaccuous nonsense and, like Theresa May, managed to lose a considerable majority of MP’s during the last General Election. She still has those politicians at a Scottish Government level of course, but there has been no further elections for the Scottish Government since the Brexit vote was delivered so we have no way of knowing if her majority in the Scottish Parliament will be similarly affected until another Scottish Election happens. While I can see some of the arguments for Scottish Independence, the fact remains that the Scottish people voted to stay as part of the Union a few years ago. Anyway, I cannot see the SNP gaining any traction for Independence while Sturgeon remains in charge.

The DUP are the DUP. Northern Irish politics is a political minefield at the best of times and all I can say of them is that they have the ability to make or break Theresa May as a result of the alliance they currently have with the Conservatives.

The Greens I am just going to ignore as they have only one elected MP and as far as I am concerned are a party full of fruitcakes who would return us all to living the life of serfdom a la the 16th Century if they had their way.

Now, as I am Welsh, I am not going to discuss Plaid Cymru at a National Level, but rather from a Welsh perspective (especially as I do have the option to vote for PC if I wanted to, an option I wouldn’t have in relation to the SNP) and therefore at a Welsh National Level.

So what of Welsh politics ? Let’s put that into a bit of perspective.


Up until 10 years ago, I had never been much of a political animal. Sure, I’d vote (if I was not away working somewhere), but I had always kept politics at an arms length. But over the last 10 years, that has changed very much.

I grew up in one of the many mining communities that were once common across South Wales. I was very much working class and very much a product of the working class. Growing up in the Amman Valley, you either voted Labour or Plaid Cymru. It was an area that was thoroughly immersed in what we would now call the ‘old’ Wales. Everybody spoke Welsh as a first language in the Amman Valley then. Just about the only time you ever heard English being spoken was when somebody from ‘outside the area’ found themselves in the village (I can tell many anecdotes of English tourists finding themselves lost in the village and asking for directions to places they had no hope of ever pronouncing properly). Indeed, I still remember the buzz around the village the day S4C was launched – and the complete disappointment the following day once everybody had realised that they couldn’t understand barely a word uttered by that ‘Gog’ that read the news (a 'Gog' is a coloquial term often used in South Wales to describe somebody from North Wales) !!

In those days (1970/80’s) there was very clear ground separating Plaid Cymru and Labour. I know that many were torn between supporting the Nationalist cause or supporting the Working Class cause. But both Plaid Cymru and Labour have shifted substantially since those days.

Labour in Wales (I won’t call them Welsh Labour as they are merely the Welsh Branch of the UK Labour Party) are not any different than Labour as a UK whole. The main difference in Wales is that Labour has been in constant control of most Welsh Constituencies for over a century, and has been the party in power since the Welsh Assembly (now Government) was first formed in 1999. They have relied on the old adage that people vote Labour because it is what their Fathers and Grandfathers did. But where has it got Wales ? Precisely nowhere is the answer.

Wales has spent the last 20 years under Labour rule stagnating and declining. We have consistently the worst Education standards, the worst performing NHS, little to no real industry and a country that is deteriorating and worst performing than any other country of a similar size to be found anywhere in the world. On top of that, Labour spend most of their time blaming the UK Government for this stagnation and waste (other than in Cardiff for which there is always an open purse of money available), ignoring the fact that it is they that hold the purse strings for Wales and it is they that waste the monies they do have on hair-brained schemes (that inevitably fail), consultations and the plethora of third-sector ‘charities’ that leech off Welsh Government funds, rarely improving the lives of the people they purport to serve and usually staffed by people who enjoy the patronage (or are paid members of) the Labour Party. Furthermore, the Labour Party in Wales seem determined to control every single aspect of the lives of the population through to their life choices, right down to what we eat and drink. You only have to look at the policies and legislation they have brought through to see how the population have been ‘infantilised’ such that we are rarely able to decide how we choose to live our lives or have any kind of freedom of speech, thought or act. That’s not to say that all their Assembly Members (AMs) are just as bad. I have met a few good ones, but they are very much in the minority.

Furthermore, Wales voted to Leave the EU, yet Labour in Wales are campaigning to try and keep Wales in the EU. How does that represent the people ?

The Conservatives in Wales suffer from the clusterfuck that is going on in Westminster. They often have some interesting ideas to improve life and standards, which I feel could be worth a shot in Wales. But it is highly unlikely that they will ever have a majority in the Welsh Government to be able to try any of those policies out. So we will never know.

The Liberal Democrats in Wales crashed even more spectacularly in Wales than they did at UK level. Such that now they only have one sitting AM (in Kirsty Williams), but that she sits as part of the Welsh Government alongside Labour (as Education Secretary). Now I will admit that I quite like Kirsty as a person (I have met her), and she has done some good things in the past. However, I was extremely disappointed that she chose to take up the offer to sit as part of the Labour-controlled Government. I am not even convinced of how much autonomy she has in the role she currently holds.

UKIP in Wales are an even bigger joke than the UK version. They too have been hit with people leaving the party and numerous scandals. Not least of which is the fact that they chose the disgraced Neil Hamilton (he of ‘brown envelope’ fame) as their Welsh Leader. I have to admit that I cringe every time I hear either him or any of their other remaining AMs speak in the Senedd.

Which brings us finally to Plaid Cymru.
The Plaid Cymru of today are an enigma to me. They claim to be a nationalist party that is dedicated to establishing an ‘Independent’ and ‘Free’ Wales. But almost everything they do, or seem to stand for, would suggest the complete opposite. Their policies are so left-wing that they are indistinguishable from the policies of the Labour Party. Furthermore, I cannot see how any political party that claims to want Independence for Wales can also want to remain a part of the European Union. The clue is in the name guys:

Independence

noun

Also independency. the state or quality of being independent.
freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.
Archaic . a competency.

As far as I am concerned I cannot see how any party that campaigns for Independence would want to remain shackled to the European Union. That is NOT Independence, that is merely discarding one Master, only to install another in its place. For that reason alone, I could never vote for Plaid Cymru in any future election (and yes, they have occasionally had my vote). I had expectations when Adam Price took over as Leader of PC that the party might actually move back to what it was originally supposed to be when Saunder Lewis founded it all those years ago. But Price has been a complete disappointment on that front. Plus he is one of the loudest proponents for staying in the EU AND for a Second Referendum, despite the fact that his own constituency voted to LEAVE.

Conclusion
To get my vote, one of the parties would need to get reasonably near to what I want to see happen in my own country – Wales.

I want to see a Wales of opportunity, where hard work and enterprise is rewarded, not hamstrung. I want to see a Wales where the people are free to make their own life choices and be encouraged to do so. I want to see a prosperous and vibrant Wales where the people are valued for the contribution they can make to everyday life. A Wales where the red tape is cut out along with the vast waste of money that we constantly see on a daily basis. This would bring a prosperous Wales where enterprise is valued and brings jobs and prosperity to the country such that our young people do not continually have to leave Wales to succeed. A land of opportunity, challenge and freedom to choose. I do not want a Government that constantly hectors, harasses and restricts what we can do or achieve. I want a Wales to be proud of, a Wales that attracts investment and more opportunities. An outgoing and welcoming place, not the tired and delapidated country and industry that Labour seems to think we want and deserve. I want a Wales that is capable of standing on its own two feet, not constantly relying on handouts.

Does that mean an Independent Wales ?
It could. If an Independent Wales delivered the vision I detailed in the previous paragraph, then I could genuinely and enthusiastically support that.

The thing is, is there a political party that could deliver that ? My vote awaits the one that shares my vision.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

1990





1990 was a TV series that aired in 1977 on the BBC. It starred Edward Woodward in the lead role and was based on the novel by Wifred Greatorex. It was quite groundbreaking in its time, depicting as it did, a dystopian future not dissimilar to the more famous one written by George Orwell that became ‘1984’.

A quick synopsis can be gathered from Wikipedia, but I will include the background summary of the world depicted that I obtained from that source:

This state of affairs was precipitated by an irrecoverable national bankruptcy in 1981, triggering martial law. In the general election, only 20% voted. The economy (and imports) drastically contracted forcing stringent rationing of housing, goods and services. These are distributed according to a person's LifeScore as determined (and constantly reviewed) by the PCD on behalf of the union-dominated socialist government. As a consequence, the higher-status individuals appear to be civil servants and union leaders. An exception to this are import/export agents, which appear to be immune to state control due to their importance to the remnants of the economy. The House of Lords has been abolished and turned into an exclusive dining club. State ownership of businesses appears to be near-total and prohibition of wealth and income appears to be very high. The reigning monarch is male due to the unfortunate death of the previous monarch (Elizabeth II) but his identity is never made clear. The currency is the Anglodollar (replaced the pound sterling in 1982 due to economic collapse) which appears to have little value overseas due to the international boycott of British exports. The armed forces have been run down to the extent that they are little more than an internal security force. This is made clear in one episode where the RAF is depicted as consisting of little more than a handful of Harrier Jump Jets and a few dozen counter-insurgency helicopters. Despite this National Service has been re-introduced (via the Youth Behaviour Control Act 1984 which enforces conscription and Genetic Crimes Act 1985, which makes sexual offences punishable by hanging). It is said that in 1986 two Army Generals and a retired Air Chief Marshal attempted a coup against the government, but it failed. 

Although running the bureaucratic dictatorship, the state appears to shy away from explicit political violence, preferring to set up psychiatric pseudo-hospitals called "Adult Rehabilitation Centres" which employ electro-convulsive treatments to 'cure' dissidents. Ordinary criminals found guilty of traditional and new economic and social crimes are prevented from clogging up the prison system by having short sentences during which they are force-fed "misery pills" (via the Oral Swallowing Induction Device, which was first tested at Ashworth Asylum for the Genetically Defective on Ian Brady and 21 others), which induce severe depression and agony during their incarceration. Despite this, fatalities and injuries do occur due to the PCD's lack of democratic accountability but these are misreported or ignored by the state-controlled press and television or are suppressed by the print unions on the last independent newspaper in the UK. The state can also declare a person to be a "non-citizen" which denies them any entitlement whatsoever to consumer goods, accommodation or food. (This often happens to sex offenders, even ones who have served their sentence and been released.) Labour is controlled by a mandatory closed shop in every workplace. For at least part of the series, the country is on a three-day working week, presumably to conserve energy or to promote full employment through job sharing. Taking a second job ("moonlighting") is illegal as is "parasitism", defined as claiming state benefits while fit for work. Ombudsman's Courts which are fixed in favour of the state are the key part of the legal system. 

Emigration is a key problem with a steady "brain drain" countered by PCD Emigration officers who try to watch every port and airfield. Despite this, professional and skilled labour is fast disappearing from the country in a similar manner to East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

So why am I discussing this TV Series from 40 years ago ?

Because recent events that have made the news has made me realise how this dystopian vision is actually in serious danger of becoming a reality. 

In the TV series we have the PCD (Department of Public Control) who dictate every aspect of how one may live your life. There is strict rationing of food, housing and services, with what you get strictly regulated by your ‘Life-score’ (i.e. how useful you are to society). Private businesses are illegal (everybody must work in a mandatory closed-shop ‘Union-controlled’ workplace), taking a second job is illegal (parasitism), Ombudsman’s Courts are fixed in favour of the state, a free press are suppressed by the print unions, Britain is isolated as the rest of the world will not trade with it, emigration is illegal (though escape is still possible as shown by the ‘brain-drain’ which sees the most talented people constantly fleeing to other countries.

In real life Britain of 2018, for the PCD, read Public Health. In real-life Britain 2018, we have Public Health trying to exert an ever greater stranglehold on the civil liberties we used to take for granted (can you guess what ‘Life-Score’ Public Health people would have ?). We have seen the recently introduced Soda Taxes, Sugar taxes, proposals to tax red meat, proposals to put cancer warnings on alcohol (and meat) as examples.

Even the Government depicted in 1990 has eerie parallels to what the Momentum (and Trade Union) controlled Labour party want to do. In recent months we have had various people in the Labour party (and indeed Trade Unions) calling for Press regulation. We have heard John McDonnell calling for Nationalisation of our industries, another Labour MP only this week calling for all housing to be nationalised. The Left are also trying hard to suppress free speech and are always screaming for more and more so-called hate-crimes to be investigated with greater zeal than real crimes. We have even had calls from some quarters of the Left trying to incite people to kill anybody who does not agree with their extreme left-wing views.

The parallels are quite uncanny. The only things in the series that we do not (yet) have in real-life 2018  are the ‘Adult Rehabilitation Centres’ centres and the force-feeding of ‘misery’ pills to prisoners who have very short sentences.

About the only thing depicted in the series (which, as the title suggests, is set in 1990) that they got wrong is that in the 1990 TV Series, everybody still smokes. I put this down to the year that 1990 was actually made as a TV series. In 1977, nobody could have dreamed that smoking would be illegal in enclosed public spaces, let alone that moves would be afoot to banish smoking from ALL public spaces.

I really do recommend you view this TV Series when you have the chance. I believe it is available on DVD, and you can also find episodes on Youtube (and for the tech-savvy you can find it through Bittorrent). There were two series of eight episodes each. The 1970’s filming techniques have not aged well, but the acting is very good and the series ia very dark, gritty drama. Even more so when you take into consideration the 1970’s TV habit of having extremely minimal background music.

It is a dark, apocryphal, scary look into what this country could become. What worries me is that the more I watch the different episodes, the more I see that world becoming a reality with what I am seeing in 2018 ‘modern’ Britain.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Sticks & Stones


The last week has seen an extraordinary spat break out across social media all because it has been revealed that some vape stores are going to start stocking IQOS. Then a whole new level of stupid was reached by the (over) reaction from certain quarters to the news that the New Nicotine Alliance supports this move.



I have watched dumbfounded as people have declared open season on anyone who dares to show any kind of support for IQOS because (shock & horror) it is made by the tobacco giant PMI. I don’t recall seeing the same reaction to ecigs such as Ploom, Blu, Vype etc – all of which are owned by tobacco companies.


However, for some reason which defies all logic, the organisation which has borne the brunt of the criticism is the New Nicotine Alliance because they have openly supported IQOS.

Many others have also pointed this out, but I will say it again anyway. The hint is in the name. The New NICOTINE Alliance. It means precisely what it says. The NNA supports ALL forms of harm reduction products that contain nicotine. That includes vaping, snus, nicotine patches (yes, really) AND it includes IQOS. If it comes under the umbrella of HARM REDUCTION from lit tobacco, then the NNA will support it.


However, because IQOS is made by Philip Morris International Plc (a tobacco company), some self-righteous vapers have taken it upon themselves to openly abuse and troll the NNA.


I’ll admit that I have never tried the IQOS (I have tried the ecigs made by tobacco companies and found them vile). But some good friends of mine have tried the IQOS and found it to be quite palatable. I also know of a number of smokers (who did not like ecigs) who have tried IQOS and are also very impressed with it. Some of them have actually quit smoking altogether as a result of trying the IQOS.


The evidence-base around how much harm reduction is given by IQOS is still quite sparse. That is to be expected, it is a very new product. But we do already know enough to say with confidence that it is most definitely a harm reduction tool. The evidence-base around ecigs was also very sparse when they first appeared. I have been vaping for almost 8 years and even when I started vaping the evidence-base was sparse. However, right from the start, we always knew that ecigs were a tremendous harm reduction tool. We did not know how much harm reduction we were getting, we just knew they were working because we felt healthier and fitter with no adverse effects. Now of course, more than 10 years into the ecig story, the evidence base has grown exponentially in favour of ecigs – proving what we all knew all along, that ecigs are an effective harm reduction tool.


But it seems that some of the ‘vaping evangelist’ types out there are not prepared to give IQOS a chance because it is made by a tobacco company. The hypocracy is quite stark.

I do not recall anybody criticising the NNA when they announced that they were to challenge the snus ban in the ECJ.. In fact, the general mood was that the NNA had made a fantastic move by deciding to challenge the snus ban. Nobody made a fuss that the NNA was working with Swedish Match in the snus-ban challenge in the ECJ. But Swedish Match are also a tobacco company. Sure, they are not one of the big tobacco companies of the standing of PMI, but a tobacco company they are nonetheless. Lest we forget, snus is a smokeless tobacco product that is placed inside the mouth, and that is what Swedish Match’s main business is. However, Swedish Match also make Cigars. Yes, you read that right, Swedish Match make cigars – which are most definitely NOT a smokeless tobacco product. In fact Swedish Match have quite a large proportion of the American cigar market (just behind the three big players).


So, you can clearly see what I mean by hypocracy. Ecigs that are made by tobacco companies are fine. A heat not burn product made by a tobacco company is not. The NNA supporting a tobacco company (Swedish Match) to overturn a European Union snus ban is fine. The NNA supporting heat not burn product (IQOS) made by a different tobacco company is not.


Confused yet ?


Apparently, two of the biggest critics of the NNA (and of several prominent advocates) have been two Youtube Vape ‘Reviewers’ called ‘Vaping With Vic’ & ‘Empire Vape Co’. You can find an article of their outpourings here.


I have to admit that whilst I have been vaping for almost 8 years, I have never heard of either of these people. There are plenty of vape ‘reviewers’ out there that I have heard of, and even know, but I have never heard of these guys.


However, like a lot of the people they have chosen to criticise, I have been heavily involved in vape advocacy for many, many years. I have no doubt that many of you reading this article will be surprised to hear that because you will never have heard my name spoken in the same breath as the advocates that these reviewers (and their apparent supporters) have been attacking on social media.


However, I can assure you that I have done a LOT of advocating (as most of the other UK advocates will attest to). I have sat in front of a huge number of politicians, scientists, medical personnel, tobacco control people and public health people and argued the case for vaping. I have also been on countless demonstrations, flashmobs and protests against impending laws, legislations and bans. In all that time not ONCE have I ever seen any Youtube vape reviewer get up off their arse and actually advocate.


I can attest to the many HUGE sacrifices that advocates make on the behalf of millions of vapers across the UK, USA and the world. You will not find one advocate who has ever earned even a single penny from their advocacy. Similarly, those same advocates often give up huge amounts of their personal time, often taking time off work and thus sacrificing their holiday entitlements to advocate for ecigs. Advocating for ecigs also puts a great strain on families as an advocate is often called away (usually at short notice) to speak in front of some committee or another, or to help an organisation develop a sensible strategy/policy on vaping. Many advocates have paid a price with their health as a result of the strain that advocacy places upon them. One advocate was even placed in danger as a result of engaging in advocacy (but that is a story that will not be told here).


They all did all that because they believe in what they are doing and because nobody else was prepared to do it. So, before you people (and you know who you are) start shooting your mouths off at such advocates, just think about where the vaping scene would be without those advocates.


The advocates I refer to have been instrumental in stopping the worse parts of the TPD being enacted (none of the Youtube Vape Reviewers would have such channels now if the TPD had been enacted the way the EC originally envisaged because the EC wanted to BAN such channels). Those same advocates are the reason why such bodies as Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians openly support ecigs. Those same advocates are also the reason why UKCTAS, NiCE and many other health organisations have issued such ecig-friendly advice and policies. Those same advocates are the reason why bans on ecigs in public places have not been enacted in many countries around the world and those same advocates are your best ally and hope to stop any future detrimental ecig laws being enacted. Because those advocates have got themselves in to the corridors of power and are best placed to influence the decision-makers and law-makers/legislators from ever implementing bad laws around ecigs and vaping.


Those advocates have sacrificed a LOT so that you don’t have to. Those advocates are the biggest reason why you still have the choice to choose between using an ecig, an IQOS or (hopefully) snus. Think about that before you have a pop with ill-informed and misguided barbs and attacks in their direction. Because if you don’t you might find that the next time some ban on ecigs is proposed those same advocates will have walked away in disgust and the ban will come in unopposed.


If that happens you will have no-one to blame but yourselves.






Footnote:

If you want to use ecigs exclusively, that is your choice. If you want to use IQOS, that is also your choice. Just thank your lucky stars you have that choice. Don’t be like the ANTZ and start spouting ‘my way or the highway’. That’s not how freedom of choice works and, in my opinion, taking that kind of stance makes you no better than the likes of Glantz/Chapman/McKee’s of this world.