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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Indefatigable Frog, or Why this won't stop us!

So this is becoming a bit of a theme and I am going to take that theme and look at it again from another angle. Clive has written fantastically on why Public Health need to address how they view the public. Jo has addressed the difference between us banding together and Public Health banding together and I am going to address just why us vapers have tinkered with miffed, passed through irked, sailed right over gobsmacked and are now firmly settled in Furious. I want to take this back to before we were vapers though, perhaps to give a little more insight.

I will use myself an as example, cos I know all my own details and that makes it a bit easier.

I started smoking when I was 12. I already knew it was bad and was used to hearing my nan nag my dad about him stopping. I also grew up with my dad not being able to smoke in the house. So by 12, I was well aware that smoking is bad enough that you are not allowed to do it around other people. Of course, I still started smoking. I smoked until I was a little over 34. So that is 22 years by the numbers. I am going to round it up to 23 cos it makes this simpler.

I am 36 now. This means, that for 2/3rds of my life, I was a ‘dirty smoker’. Something that society was at pains to remind me about on a daily basis, with my freedom to smoke being restricted more and more. I am sure I was not the only smoker to feel utterly sickened to read news articles condemning adoptive parents for smoking, that they should be prevented from giving love and security to a vulnerable child, all because they enjoyed a cigarette. As a parent, this strikes a bit of fear into you. Will they condemn parents that smoke? Will they one day say my children should be taken away from me cos I go into the garden to have a ciggy?

But it was nastier than that. They ran adverts about horrible tobacco guzzling parents, so that all of society could hate me a little bit more, as the adverts on the tellybox had told them what an appalling mother I was.

The public at large already sneered at me, customers at my workplace would comment on my habit, tell me it would ruin my skin, age me or how it made me look ugly. Really personal stuff, and insulting too. I did not know these people, who were they to tell me that I was ugly because I smoked? I wish I were kidding, but I used to get these comments with relative frequency. If they could think of nothing particularly personal, they would settle with ‘Bad for you, that’ as though somehow I must just have missed the adverts, posters, flyers, billboards, comments etc and was happily thinking I was replacing one of my 5 a day with some tobacco leaves. So I was stupid, too.

To recap – I was stupid, ugly, will  be ugly, a bad mother and society thought I stank.

Then when the smoking ban came into affect, by which time I had switched to rollies, I would stand at work and roll myself a ciggy before going outside for a break. I remember catching a woman looking at me as I fashioned a perfectly cylindrical tube of ‘I am going outside so you lot can stop clicking your damn fingers at me for service’ to see such a look of disgust on her face that it really took me back for a moment. I had never had a stranger look at me like that before. Pure unadulterated loathing for me rolling a ciggie. I probably could have chopped out a line of coke, or rolled up my sleeve to tap for a vein and not been looked at like I was just then.

Post the 2007 ban, things just got worse in terms of how ppl treated me. The adverts got more aggressive, the second hand smoke messages got more aggressive. So now rather than just being ugly, smelly, stupid and a bad parent I was also dangerous.

If you are not a vaper or smoker and are reading this, imagine for just one second, what that must be like? To spend 2/3rds of your life being treated like this, looked at in this way. Remember that poor woman who ignited her oxygen tube with a lighter? Seek it out – look at the comments and see what the public thinks of smokers. The vitriol and hatred is something to behold. A poor woman made a horrible mistake whilst still under the effects of a general anaesthetic and what did the public say? She deserved it. Why? 

Because she was a smoker.

For the record, I think they were wrong! I think to demonise a group of people so determinedly as they did with smokers is inhuman and immoral.  However, there is no escaping the fact that when I took up vaping instead, I thought I had freed myself from that. I do not look for people to accept me, I do not and did not want to be confirmed as a human again, but I did think that would stop.
Well it hasn’t and frankly, it has gotten worse. 

So, ask youselves. Why am I angry? Why are many vapers angry?

We have tried to talk to you. We have written to you, we have emailed you and we have tweeted you. You have largely ignored us. You have written articles that hide behind paywalls discrediting us with accusations and thinly veiled but loaded reminders of ‘What The Tobacco Industry Did To Us’, that you have ‘Seen All This Before’. You told us our stories are not true. You go to the public and you tell them that we are to be feared just as we were as smokers. That we have not achieved anything, by moving the goalposts: Is the endgame tobacco free, or nicotine free? You use your media presence to say things that evidence has not shown and common sense denies. And what can we do about it?

Nothing.

 We cannot answer, we cannot explain to you why a custard flavoured e-liquid is so important to us. Why we have faith in what we are trying to advocate because WE were the very smokers you had not got a chance of getting to Quit. When we use one of the only mediums we have available to us to contact you, you block us without deigning to answer, then profess to your peers that you are being attacked, by ecig zealots or tobacco stooges. You use your credibility to convince others that you are right. Afterall, we are just addicts. Have you the first CLUE how insanely insulting this is? This is not our job, we do it because we want to keep this movement going. We do this for FREE, for NOTHING. No one pays us. YOU on the other hand are paid. You are paid to look after our health. 

Understand, this is NOT related to any one individual, this has happened for as long as I have been doing this and  before, it is not new but has worsened. And what can we do? 

Nothing.

We do not have funding. We do not have the ear of the media. We do not have letters after our names. We do not have influence. We do not have swathes of respecting public and academics. We are normal as normal can be. But we do have something! We have experience and knowledge and understanding of what it is to be a smoker then a vaper. We can see first hand why this is working and what will stop it, dead in its tracks. We are trying to warn you that the direction of travel you are choosing is going to cause untold damage to people’s lives, but you will not listen.

And why do we do this? It is not to save our arses! The loudest and most active of us will continue to vape no matter what you do. We can be self-sufficient, that is something you cannot prevent. We do this because there are hundreds of millions of smokers across the planet who face being denied the opportunity that we had. That is not acceptable. That is not OK, not in any world, at any moment in space or time. We are not out to convert people, just to stop you from scaring them off of a new and safer habit that may well save their life, at the very least, improve it if they choose!

Is that a bad thing? No, and it is something YOU should be doing too.

But be clear, those of you that are doing this to us, there are others amongst you are are looking at you askance. 

So why are we angry? We did what you want, just not how you wanted us to, or BECAUSE you wanted us to, and you still persist with the demonisation. Except, this time, you are lying about us personally.

27 comments:

  1. Well said Lorien. Excellent post.

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  2. Good on you Lorien - a voice for us, the unspeakables!!!!!!!!!! Keep it up girl.

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  3. Brilliant! I don't think you'll find a single vaper (or smoker) who'd disagree with this! I know I agree wholeheartedly.

    I sometimes think that tis world has gone completely crazy! Here we have a product that has the potential to save millions of lives, and what happens?

    The WHO, instead of focusing all their efforts on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, fights against ECigs like a rabid dog.

    Tobacco control, despite having for the first time in their history, a product that could actually make tobacco & tobaco use obsolete - also opposes the very thing that could accomplish their goals.

    Doctors, despite now having a device available that could drastically improve their smoking patient's lives and health, also fighting Ecigs.

    I have started wondering if these people haven't been given too much power over us - the public - whom they are supposed to be serving. Instead they try and crush and humiliate us like a disobedient slave who had the audacity to find a solution without their say so.

    Where would humanity be without the people who were brave enough to take that leap of faith that brought about all of the technological and medical marvels we enjoy today? Shouldn't PH, TC, the WHO, and world governments be asking what they can do to help further and improve this wonerfull thing called the electronic cigarette? Instead they're trying to derail and crush it at every turn.

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    1. Pretty much what I've been thinking...............

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  4. Brilliant blog Lorien...............

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  5. Great post lorien. Thankyou for writing it

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  6. Well said. Will they, I wonder, ever get on board with the idea that we are angry BECAUSE of them even more than we are angry AT them?

    What I find interesting is that you don't have to thumb a very long way back through the history books to find a time when smoking was considered a glamorous and elegant pastime for women. Flash forward to more recent years, and you arrive in a time during which I was told, to my face, that "Women shouldn't be allowed to smoke. It totally spoils them". One of the real standout "what the fuck" moments in my life; and that's even ignoring the arrogance of the person behind the remark.

    So we have two attitudes that are in complete opposition to each other, separated only by a few short decades. Of course, both of these attitudes were manufactured to serve some purpose. There are also important differences between the philosophies behind their manufacture.

    The tobacco companies set out to glamorize smoking to sell their perfectly legitimate product. Now, before you say "yes, but it's a product that kills!" take a moment and remember that when they began this process nobody actually knew that was case. It was, if you like, an age of innocence as far as smoking was concerned - some of the advertizing even featured members of the medical professions!

    When tobacco control set out to deglamorize smoking, they went too far; they didn't stop at education, they went straight for demonization. And they did this in full knowledge of the terrible effects it was having on the day to day lives and interactions of smokers. It was a shameless and cynical social engineering project and a global scale - something that has never been seen before - and it was based in no small part upon the outrageous lie that is second hand smoke.

    The loathing of Big Tobacco by tobacco control is obvious. But when you look at how tobacco control has behaved, and how it has lost its humanity, you start to realize which of the two opponents if the most disgusting and morally repugnant.

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  7. Spot on, hard to say more. 40 year smoker gave up in 2 weeks 19 months smoke free and loving it. The frustration when the latest junk science is reported in the media as fact is soul destroying. If ecigs are banned when tax revenue tobacco is legal I'll be hitting the black market or China. FT (other suppliers are available)

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  8. Well said Lorien. And BTW, you certainly are NOT ugly. Quite the opposite in fact.

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  9. "They" have added Nicotine Use of any type except the narrow FDA approved as Dangerous to ourselves to society to children to teens why To keep Their Lofty Perch on The Moral High Ground. Well worth it to them if a few 100,000 thousand in the US continue to Smoke. Their Motto We must win more matter the Human cost.

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  10. Wow! Great piece of writing! I'm definitely going to share this around.

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  11. Great blog Lorien, just to add i think there is another more sinister side to the reaction from public health in general in that they have always known just how hard it is to stop smoking, and with all of their demonizing and downright nastiness they were well aware that whilst a percentage of smokers would quit thats all it would be a percentage and so the status quo between governments looking like they were trying to help people quit and new smokers taking up the habit remained,as most smokers know before there was vaping quitting smoking was something you might be able to do after many failed attempts and many years of trying.
    So heres the rub vaping has for the first time in the history of smoking empowered people to be able quit a stay off the cigs in a comparatively short space of time, now this IS messing with the status quo and if allowed to continue will, and i have no doubt succeed where all else has failed hence cut off the money flow in every direction and they will not take that one laying down!

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  12. IMO the biggest problem is that TC talks about smoking as if it were an abstract concept that does not involve real human beings who have reel feelings and are badly hurt in process. So they say "I hate smoking but not smokers" as if it were possible to distinguish between the two in their actions to stigmatize them. And in order to do so and sleep with a clean conscience they have to dehumanize smokers to an academic level: they no longer care about a dehumanized person's well being, and now with vaping they have taken it to the next level and neither do they care about the real human life they endanger with their abstract academic views. Or 'ideology over human life' as we call it. No wonder we're angry...

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  13. Superb Lorien well done. I'm fairly thick skinned so the smoking zealots never really got to me but I sense that the feelings that you so eloquently describe are reminiscent of a few decades ago when even homosexuals were considered criminals or medically ill. There are certainly parallels in how TC & PH see and treat smokers and now vapers, although the pink pound was never as influential in their thinking as the money (or fear of loss) now causing the whole TC/PH circus of discriminating bigots to act as they do.

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  14. Dr Chris Luke on Irish radio said he objected to ecigs because "some people are using these to thumb their nose at authority, specifically public health" I think this is the basis for the antipathy towards ecigs. They see vaping as rebellion.

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    1. And so it should be. Thumbing noses at authority has a long and fine history. We should do it more often.

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    2. Rebellion is the right of every free citizen: there are times when it is his duty.


      Like now.

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  15. Excellent post! Thank you very much!

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  16. Lorien, very well thought out and perfectly written! And the comments here get accolades as well: you've got a great following!

    I've spent a good number of years railing about the harm that the Antismokers have done, not just to smokers, but to their friends, families, and the larger society they are part of because of the hatred and social division created by the "Second Hand Smoke" campaign. Even the very term itself was deliberately created to foster the idea of spreading dirt and germs as I remember from some of the early discussions on the concept after the Godber conference: the idea was to emphasize that smokers were "forcing something that they had already used" off on people around them -- as a form of waste/garbage/contagion.

    You speak at one point of The Man coming to take your children away if you're a smoker: In TobakkoNacht I wrote about a set of headlines from California just a little over a year ago that blared the scary "fact" that "Over 2.5 Million California Children Are Plagued By Exposure To Secondhand Smoke." Guess what? Not only did they have to "correct" (in small print) that figure down to about 1 million a few days later, but even THAT figure mainly counted children whose plague exposure came from parents who went "into the garden to have a ciggy." Yep. Your children would have been victims of a Plague -- and I'm sure it wouldn't be at all unknown for such children to be further victimized through antismoking parents forbidding their own children to socialize with Little Sammy Smokums for fear of thirdhand smoke contamination. (Heh, I have one example I cited of a woman who talked her doctor into doing a breast biopsy on a "suspicious lump" in her breast because she was convinced it was cancerous. Why? Because she shared an office phone with a co-worker who stepped out for a smoke once in a while, thereby exposing her to the deadly chemicals whenever she had to answer a ringtone! (No, sadly, I am not kidding. And it was a serious concern expressed in a note on the Scientific American pages.)

    At one point while writing TobakkoNacht I puzzled over how to express the sheer reality of the depth and volume of the hate you wrote of so well. Simply talking about it didn't seem to be enough, but spending dozens of pages analyzing dozens of examples would simply take up too much space and would still be dismissed as page-wasting cherry-picking. So what I opted for was condensing about 130 samples into a packed, slightly-reduced-font-sized "Four Pages Of Hate" which I have since converted into a 3x4 foot wall-poster for book readings: a "Wall Of Hate" which you are welcome to read and download and print out if you want from http://bit.ly/WallOfHate

    Keep on fighting Lorien! And thank you fro a great posting!

    :)
    MJM

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    1. Your opinions are so wrong. I'm not even going to waste any more time explaining why. Your a stuck in the mud who is going nowhere fool

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  17. Exceptional talents Lorien. Old cranks like me savour the depth of care, compassion and concern you have so eloquently voiced. Thank you sunshine for sharing with us old cranks and our friends and families. No matter what the odds are remember, the improbable takes awhile.......the impossible takes a little longer. Vape Safe! Vape LOUD! www.tra.ca we are with you.

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  18. Thank you! Thank you for saying all this, for all of us! I'm going to link this post everywhere I can, maybe at least one of those ANTZ nazis will read it!

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  19. The unhealthy addiction to shaming needs to be addressed. I have never known it to help any smoker quit.
    Remember, vapers are the former smokers who could NOT be shamed into submission....I am beginning to realize that nicotine users may well be the most independent, anti-sheeple in existence. Could this be why they want us dying young?
    Well, we are not gonna take it anymore! So get on fast-tracking that Shamex, Big Pharma!

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  20. can someone tell me the relevance or the connection of the title The Indefatigable Frog (Yes, I know by Philip K Dick) and the article.

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