I am not normally a soap-box orator, but some matters get me fighting mad.
I used to smoke. Over a fifty-year period I consumed cigarettes (untipped and tipped), pipe tobacco, cigars, and even snuff! At stressful times my consumption came close to chain smoking. I must have smoked some half a million cigarettes, and it is well 'known' to the self-appointed guardians of the public health that just 15 cigarettes are sufficient to kill. Statistically, then, it seems that I must inevitably have died at a very early age, however, somehow, I have survived to the age of 65, and gathered some wisdom along the way. That wisdom has taught me that the common man has more common sense than he is given credit for by anyone in the House of Commons! These are the thoughts of one common man on the subject of e-cigarettes, and their place in the new world order as defined by our political masters.
Over the last twenty years successive governments and their paid lackeys in the NHS have mounted a campaign of demonising tobacco, and its ability to offer smokers a little bit of pleasure. They told us how we would all die a premature death (like the smoking icon Winston Churchill or the late Queen Mother?), but not enough of us listened and quit. So they decided that smokers should finance the NHS in its entirety, and introduced swingeing tax penalties instead, But not enough of us cut our losses and quit. So they changed tack; since we were not dying as quickly as they thought we should, we were instead breeding and forcing our children to follow our example, so they banned tobacco advertising, and started indoctrinating the children in nursery school on the evils of tobacco. But still not enough of us quit (or died off), so they offered us help to quit, with support services, and counselling, and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in the form of patches and gum, and little plastic tubes that tasted of nothing and just made us look silly. But still too few managed to quit.
Having failed to convince us that we were killing ourselves, the pundits changed tack again, and decided to utilise peer pressure by convincing the general public that smokers were out to kill them all. They pointed out that hundreds of thousands of entertainers, barmaids, landlords, waiters, cinema usherettes, taxi drivers etc. were falling dead all over the place due to 'passive smoking' - well Roy Castle anyway. So they decided to ban smoking in pubs, clubs, cinemas and restaurants, and even some smokers applauded, until they realised that the ban also encompassed ALL enclosed spaces to which the public MIGHT have access, including anywhere where even smokers worked, effectively meaning everywhere except the home. The hospital hierarchies, and bodies such as the rail companies even took the term 'enclosed' to mean 'inclosed', as in anything inclosed in our site perimeter! Indeed, some institutions even seek to prohibit smoking on public roads adjacent to their sites! It seems that a certain village in Anglesey, Llanfair (it seems they’ve rescinded the joke against the English speakers) are even trying to extend the prohibition to the parish boundary. Thus enshrined in law, tobacco prohibition meant that smokers were forced to huddle in doorways and side alleys, where they could be subjected to the baleful glances of the greater British public, who were able to go about their healthful business without being suffocated by the noxious smog they had been forced to suffer for over 500 years.
And so the beleaguered smoker was delighted when a new device was developed which gave him/her the ability to take in nicotine without recourse to tobacco, something to do with his hands, something which tasted better than plastic tubes, and which could not possibly cause harm to his children or neighbours since it produced only water vapour - the electronic cigarette, or e-cig. And moreover, since it did not involve lit tobacco, it was (and still is) totally legal to use indoors or out. So he tried it, liked it, and did exactly what the anti-smoking establishment had tried to force him to do for years - he QUIT! In the thousands, the millions, he became a NON-SMOKER! He felt better, he smelt better, he breathed more easily, he had more cash in his pocket, he became a happy VAPER! I know, because I'm one of the number. Personally, I haven't touched a cigarette in sixteen months, and I don't want to! I don't fancy a smoke at all! In fact, I wish we'd had e-cigs fifty years ago!
Then the establishment bigots came back on the scene.
"You can't use an e-cig", they said, "because you can't prove (to our satisfaction) that it's safe!". Now, it could be extremely difficult to prove that a car, bus, lorry, train or plane is safe - but when were they banned? Many people are injured or killed each year by household cutlery or kitchen utensils. Are we to ban their use in the home? No, we teach our children to use them with care, we handle them carefully ourselves, and we do not let young people buy them. Has anyone ever proved conclusively that tomatoes, for example, are totally safe? Tomatoes are one of a family of plants (Solanum) that includes potatoes along with Deadly Nightshade - and, of course, Nicotiana, the Tobacco plant. When did anyone force-feed beagles with tomatoes to see what ill-effects ensued. People in Bunol, Spain occasionally get injured by flying tomatoes; should La Tomatina be banned?
"You will cause children to think smoking glamorous, and undo all our good work of juvenile indoctrination", they said. Well, I didn't smoke because I saw my parents smoke. I think I smoked my first cigarette because I wanted to see what it felt and tasted like, just as I tried my first banana, my first sherbert lemon, my first tomato, my first girlfriend! I didn't much like that first fag, but when I started work most of my colleagues were smokers. Seeing them smoking cigarettes made my try cigarettes. My boss smoked a pipe; I tried a pipe. The MD smoked cigars; I tried cigars. If they had been vaping e-cigs, I would almost certainly have tried e-cigs! And, if I had liked it, I might have continued for life - or not. I cannot imagine that it would have made me take snuff, or start chewing Nicotiana stems, or gateposts for that matter. Young people model themselves on their peers rather more than they do on on their elders. But what they experience in the earliest years can affect their later life. Unlike feeding kids sweets and fizzy drinks that might set them on an addiction to sugar, setting them a good example (like choosing safe options, or learning to make their own decisions) may bring benefits in later life. Making cannabis, heroin, et cetera illegal never stopped them being available to young people! Sensible advice is always better than high-handed governmental propaganda and legislation, however well-intended. After all, do we ban children from the beach because of the undisputed dangers to be found there. On the contrary, we explain the dangers, provide them with any necessary protection, and let them enjoy themselves! Oh, if only we could do the same for the common man!
"Using an e-cig 'normalises' smoking", they said. What, NOT smoking normalises smoking? E-cigs normalise tobacco? The clean and hygienic vaporisation of propylen glycol normalises the dirty combustion of paper and leaves? What parallel universe do these idiots inhabit? Oh, Wales, Ireland and California, hmmm.... I wonder about this term, 'normalisation'. Does a vote for nationalist Plaid Cymru normalise neo-nazism, which is universally and rightly condemned? Does gay marriage normalise heterosexuality, or heterosexual marriage normalise homophobia, both of which many people will find unacceptable? Does badger culling normalise ethnic cleansing or animal cruelty? Do the words of 'Men of Harlech' promote racial hatred and normalise tribal warfare? Does the game of Rugby normalise violence and aggressive competitiveness? Does voting someone into power make them immune to criticism, and normalise dictatorship?
When the decision is made as to the correctness of banning e-cigs, let the legislators take account of the views of those who have carefully considered ALL aspects of the argument, not just those who are blinkered by their desire to force their ideology on everyone else. Let common sense prevail, and let the common man make his own decisions!