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?


 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? 


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.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Dear FPH - Just a quick word about John Ashton.

Unless it escaped your notice or perhaps you have not grasped just how batshit crazy Mr Ashton went this weekend, these blogs (Dick, Jo, Random Vaper and VapeMeStoopid) have the screenshots you need to see. This behaviour was NOT based on our beloved Fergus (or anyone) exercising his expansive knowledge of colourful & creative insults (which he didn't!) or anyone being abusive. This snowballed after a few of us asked reasonable and polite questions. Actually, one question got me blocked. Others didn't even have the luxury of ONE question. Thinking about it, I have no idea if I was blocked BEFORE all of this, none of us do!

Anyhow, hopefully you have seen the pics of the tweets and understand the true absurdity of the situation. I know others have done this too, but here is my personal letter of complaint to the Faculty of Public Health.



This is not a letter I take any pleasure in writing but I feel that, in the circumstances, there is no other option. Please accept the following as a formal complaint against the President of The Faculty of Public Health, Professor John Ashton, under section 4 of your complaints procedure, as a result of inappropriate behaviour on social media. As such I would like confirmation of receipt of this complaint and confirmation that it has been forwarded to the registrar.

I am a Vaper, e-cigarette user if you will, of almost two years. I and many others have made sure that we have kept abreast of all developments in this area in that time period. I am a genuine person who is not in the pay of industry of any description.  I would call myself an advocate, but be clear that I am an unpaid one. In the course of trying to get the voice of the vaper heard and considered by those in public health, tobacco control, the media and those in politics, I (and many others) have been subjected to many accusations and insults. We have been shut out and discounted for many reasons. We have observed and listened to many experts in the field of Public Health talk in the media about things that we know not to be true and yet we have not be able to redress the balance with what we see as the truth and what the data refutes.

This was never more apparent than Professor John Ashton’s behaviour  this week, having appeared three times in the media with unsupported claims and misrepresentations of data.

As members of the public, we do not have the ability to comment on these assertions. We are not able to talk with Mr Ashton via anything other than social media.

However, when approached on Twitter (initially reasonably) myself and others found ourselves blocked with no answers given to our questions.  A brick wall was very quickly built and from behind it, with no way of us being able to respond or defend ourselves, Mr Ashton began to hurl abuse.  Vapers who had not been involved in trying to communicate with him whatsoever, found themselves being told they were addicts and slaves to this addiction. From their perspective, this came entirely out of the blue as it appears Mr Ashton had trawled through their timelines in order to find a tweet he could then insult them from.  This one I find to be most disturbing, please note that the tweet he attacked is dated 20/08/2014.

For a man in a position of authority and power to deem it appropriate to seek out and attack a member of the public for doing something a) completely legal and b) is reducing their harm in place of smoked tobacco, beggars belief. It is unfathomable to imagine that Mr Ashton is able to view harm reduction for smokers with anything even approaching objectivity. To this end, it is entirely inappropriate for him to be in a position of authority that will have lasting effects on the future of e-cigarette usage in the UK. It is bad enough that, as advocates, we have been shut out and ignored but to then be called cunts, onanists, ‘lads behind the bikesheds’, addicts, tobacco industry shills (Indeed shills for ANY industry) is beyond the pale.

If these are the thoughts that sit behind decision making and position taking on e-cigarettes then it is clear that Professor John Ashton and the Faculty of Public Health are not fit to be involved in the discussion.  As such these personal attacks have to be apologised for and Mr Ashton must have no further part in the wider discussion on the place of harm reduction for smokers in society. This is a volatile situation and involves the lives of many millions of people. To allow yourselves to be a part of the movement that seeks to restrict access to what may be life saving technology, based on the personal ideologies, prejudices and ill informed opinions of one man calls into question the role of Public Health in its entirety. 

I look forward to your response,

Lorien Jollye


I removed this paragraph being as it is best we don't get drawn into the details of misrepresentation of data, it avoids them using it to distract from the situation. I am putting in here cos I need to get it off my chest.

"This was never more apparent than Professor John Ashton’s behaviour  this week, having appeared three times in the media with unsupported claims and misrepresentations of data. No example is clearer than his willingness to espouse the validity of the most recent data on E-cig use in US youth, from the CDC.  One would hope that Mr Ashton had done more than read the conclusion/press release and seen that the data within the study does not support the resulting media frenzy. It is of great concern that a man in Mr Ashton’s position would not read a study before taking to the airwaves in order strike fear into the hearts of every parent in the UK. This alone is questionable behaviour. Further to this, to willingly overlook and underplay statistics from both ASH and Professor Robert Wests ‘smoking toolkit’ in order to push, what can only be called an agenda,  the ‘Gateway to tobacco’ theory and that ‘self respecting’ adults would not use sweet flavours."

I find this entire situation both hilarious and terrifying. Whether or not the man was drunk when he embarked upon this bonkers and vicious campaign, is irrelevant. Alcohol does not create, it amplifies. The mask slipped and my god it was covering something breathtakingly ugly. This HAS to be addressed as people like John Ashton have NO right to be involved in this when he holds the people affected in such absolute contempt.

It really is never ending, isn't it.