The reason I am blogging this is not for the same reason as the BMJ letter entry. This time, my letter has been published in the Lancet, albeit abridged. That is why I wanted to put up the complete text that I sent. The shorter, published, version can be found here.
I should say that the editing was not done without my input and they were very patient and helpful.
What a peculiar situation I find myself in. At the end of 2012, not long after starting vaping after 23yrs of smoking, I realised that things were being grossly misunderstood about what ecigs could offer to smokers. Very naively I, and others, thought we could explain to politicians & Public Health where they were going wrong with what the TPD was trying to achieve. Within months, we learnt what 'AstroTurf' meant, as an Irish MEP informed the press that this is what we were. Why? Because we knew too much.
I was shocked! It seemed so obvious that we were normal people trying to dispel fears & misconceptions with experience & knowledge. Things have gotten significantly worse since then. We have struggled to get the ear of the very people who are advising Government, WHO & the public. We have been insulted or ignored, often both, and in a shockingly aggressive way. And why? I genuinely could not say. We are not an organised group, we are not funded, we act as individuals but have the same cause. The sense of frustration is palpable among us & I for one am horrified by the accusations of being shills & stooges. We are told our accounts are not real, our stories are fake. No matter how polite or constructive we are, some of the most influential & media savvy in PH will instantly bemoan the 'trolling' they are having to endure, which closes doors to people we have never even spoken to.
When finally we had enough of the bullying & untruths from articles written behind paywalls, public comments about us & at us on social media, we complain to an authority about the extreme behaviour we experienced on Twitter. We are informed of the complaints procedure & told to wait 30 days for a resolution. Then we watch while elements of Public Health stepped up what feels like a campaign to humiliate us further in blaming us for the behaviour of their peers. More articles, more opinion pieces appear. Somehow, we deserved the insults, we bought it upon ourselves. We are unreasonable & silly for expecting to have a say in what's happening with our lives. Decisions are being made about us, but definitely without us.
To finally see the Faculty of Public Health support their president John Ashton, before conclusion of the investigation, without even being asked to further explain our experience is disgusting. It would appear most of you are not even aware of what happened. I ask you all to reflect deeply on who it is you represent, who you are charged with protecting. Well it's me, and millions of others like me, yet you insulted & ignored me, then when I complained you blamed me.
UPDATE - Thanks to four particularly vocal Anti E-cig Activists responding to my letter, I have written a second letter, here.