Thursday, 2 July 2015

Advocacy and Apathy

It's not often that I have a rant in print, but today is going to be an exception.

Now some of you may know that we have a maniac in a position of power in Wales. This maniac is called Mark Drakeford and he actually has a job by the grand title of Health Minister (which I would have thought should be enough in itself to prosecute him under the Trade Description Act).

Now Mark Drakeford has a dream. His dream is that he will ban the use of eCigarettes in public enclosed spaces, or at least that is what he said was his intention when he included it in the Welsh Public Health Bill.

You see, word has got out (via the HSCC) that he doesn't plan to stop there. He also wants to ban vaping in hospital grounds if he gets the Public Health Bill through. I think you can all see where this is leading. He isn't simply going to stop there. Once he gets his way it will simply lead to more and more draconian measures and eventually you won't be able to use them anywhere except in your own home (and maybe not even there).

So now the rant begins ...

Many of you will know that I consider myself a vaping advocate. I am a Trustee of the New Nicotine Alliance as well. But I have also spent vast amounts of time and money as a result of this eCig advocacy. It's not easy juggling a job and a family when you are trying to do eCig advocacy. Ask any eCig advocate and they will tell you the same thing.

Over the past 18 months, I have spent a considerable amount of time meeting and talking to Assembly AMs to try and educate them on what the benefits of eCigs and also to get their support. I've not been alone in this, there are other people involved in Wales and I have spoken of them all in glowing terms many times on this blog.

However, the point of all this is what the advocacy costs me. Every time I go out to meet an AM, to attend meetings that might push our eCig cause further along, I have to take time off work. A day here and a day there. It all adds up. I watch my annual quota decreasing gradually until there is none left. Often this is to the detriment of my family. Of course, all such things also have a cost. All the travelling is paid for out of my own pocket. There is no Big Vapour supporting me in these efforts.

I am not alone in this. All eCig advocates are in the same position as me. It costs us, in both time and money. We don't do it for the fame (what fame ?) and we certainly don't do it for the thanks (as much of what we do happens under the radar). We do it because we BELIEVE in the cause. We believe that everybody has the right to make a healthier choice in their lifestyles. eCigs give us that choice. Every one of us were smokers once upon a time. eCigs gave us the chance to get away from that.

The effort made in advocacy does pay off. During my meetings with various AMs, I have managed to garner considerable support in halls of political power of the Welsh Assembly. The main reason that so many AMs support our fight against Mark Drakeford's eCig Ban is BECAUSE I (and many others) and spend time and money to go out to meet these politicians in their own backyards and tell them the TRUTH about vaping. I've lost account of the number of times I have related my 'vaping story' and presented all of the ever mounting evidence to back up eveything I say.

But what really boils my piss is the apathy that is often found out there in the vaping world. Yes, there are a LOT of vaping advocates out there (and that number keeps growing). But the vapers on the street seem not to care one jot. What is wrong with these people ?

We have all seen the likes of Darren Millar, Andrew RT Davies, Elin Jones, Peter Black, Bethan Jenkins (to name but a few) expressing their support for our fight. We have also seen them many times acting in our favour in the Senedd and we most certainly have seen the likes of these people speaking out on our behalf in the Senedd. I find it absolutely thrilling when I hear such people speaking out against the Health Minister and using words and evidence that I have presented to them when they do so.

So what the f*** is going on with the Petiton against the ban on eCigs that Welsh Lib-Dems launched a few weeks ago ?

Kirsty Williams is one of our most vocal supporters. She believes wholeheartedly in our campaign to stop the eCig ban and she is very vocal in taking our campaign forward in the Senedd.

Kirsty is the reason why the Lib-Dem Petition against the ban exists in the first place. Yet, from an estimated population of 100,000 vapers in Wales, why has this petition only attracted 2,300 signatures ?

Vapers who don't believe that Mark Drakeford's proposed ban will never happen are in for a rude awakening unless they wake up from their apathy and support the campaign.

Sign the Lib-Dems petition. It only takes two minutes for goodness sake. There is no point in complaining about eCigs being banned everywhere after the event. The time is now. The apathy MUST stop or we will lose our basic right to vape.

Think on this. Kirsty is not going to be so motivated to fight for us if the Petition only gets a small number of signatures. That's because she will be accused of not having the backing of Vapers in Wales. It only take two minutes, so sign the damn Petition. Let's get tens of thousands of signatures on Kirsty's petition. THEN, she has a mandate to fight for us (and believe me when I say that she WILL fight - she is a very tenacious lady).

We already know that the Conservatives and Plaid will support Kirsty in this fight. But she needs to see your SUPPORT.


Wake up Wales. The time to act is NOW. Do it before it is too late. Otherwise, why have I been wasting my time over the last 18 months ?

Get off your arses and make your voices heard !!

Let's save Vaping in Wales