Monday, 9 October 2017

Another Irrelevant E-Cigarette Summit

Towards the end of proceedings on Friday 17th November, Sarah Jakes of the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) will speak to the fifth E-Cigarette Summit at the Royal Society and describe vaping consumers as "true experts in this field", but note quite rightly that "yet often their voices are missing from the debate".  It couldn't be a more timely speech, because for the whole day that precedes it there will be no consumers involved whatsoever.

Consumers are not included on any of the panels, no consumer has been invited to present to the event, and there is not even a consumer rate given on the registration page.

Click to enlarge
The website effectively screams that vapers are not welcome.

Instead, it is the usual who's who of tobacco control and 'public health' to discuss the precautionary principle, regulations, nasty Big Tobacco and how to make all smokers switch to e-cigs (and maybe even then off those too). As a result, it will skirt round many of the topics that actually matter to vapers. The whole event will only discuss vaping in the context of health and will therefore be fundamentally flawed and irrelevant. You can read the day's schedule here but I don't think you need to look further than the post-lunch presentation to get a comedic flavour of how it is going to go. You see, Deborah Arnott of ASH is going to give her expert opinion on "regulation of ‘heat not burn’ versus e-cigarettes", which shouldn't be difficult to guess considering she has already declared that heat not burn devices should be treated the same as cigarettes.

What's more, those selected for the stage will be speaking to a room full of government, local government, and other state-funded activists, all spending a very pricey day out in London on expenses courtesy of the taxpayer.

Contrast this with Andrew Allison of the Freedom Association's Freedom to Vape campaign. If the E-Cigarette Summit wasn't such a one-sided and blinkered event - dedicated to handing 'public health' a microphone and not asking for it back - he might have been considered as a panellist. Imagine the subjects he could talk about. Why local authorities are ignoring PHE advice on vaping policies as discovered by Freedom of Information requests last year, perhaps, or how regulations imposed by the TPD are causing potentially dangerous unintended consequences. But not only is he not given a free place by way of being involved, he has also not even been afforded a press pass without having to pay for it, despite possessing a national press card issued by the Chartered Institute of Journalists, of which he is a member.

This pass may be good enough for being admitted to political party conferences and press briefings, but it's not good enough for the E-Cigarette Summit, apparently. Now, considering I don't reckon national and international media organisations are beating a pathway to the Summit's doors in droves, it's fair to say press passes on the day will probably be as thin on the ground as the contents of a rocking horse's dinner the night before.

If you've ever been to a Freedom Association event, you'll know they have to work hard at raising money and hasn't got any to burn. I've been to events where they literally rattle buckets to pull in spare change. Andrew hasn't got the unending tax tap that state-funded NGOs have, but then it would seem that the Summit doesn't really want his sort around anyway. Unlike the far superior GFN conference in Warsaw, the E-Cigarette Summit treats consumers as an inconvenient afterthought, carefully selects industry voices so as not to upset the 'public health' grandees it panders to, and therefore contributes just about nothing useful to the whole debate.

Vapers have regularly voiced the motto "nothing about us, without us" to remind 'public health' that they should be talking to and listening to the public they are supposed to serve, not haughtily talking about policy in their echo chamber and pronouncing from on high. Vapers are absolutely right about this, yet November's summit goes against all of what the vaping movement has always been about.

Basically, the whole day will be a load of people who mostly don't vape or smoke talking about what to do to people who do. In other words, yet another public health conference, and all the more pointless for it. Still, it'll suit tobacco controllers not to have to field any awkward questions, and further prove that this sphere of policy is now controlled, dictated and owned by 'public health'.

I wish Sarah well trying to convince the room that consumers should be first on the invite list for these events, because she is absolutely right, but I don't reckon many delegates - if any - will take much notice. She will be trying to make herself heard through a thick wall built with stubborn and lucrative vested interests.


The UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) has blogged on this today too, it is pretty clear what they believe the event is about and which sections of society they think should attend. Here's a clue, consumers aren't one of them.


Blogger said...

After doing some research online, I've ordered my first e-cig kit on VaporFi.

Blogger said...


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