by Vicky Grant
I have started to ask myself this question more and more recently, and it has given me much cause for concern. I am aware that this blog may be controversial, but please hear me out.
During my first year (almost!) as a vaper, and a member of a much-loved community of very passionate and supportive people, I have joined the ranks and fought alongside this growing group. We all believe in our fight against policy changes that would effectively destroy the freedom of choice we have found, and which has led to several million of us across the EU feeling a darn site better – in health and wealth.
My concern began when I stepped back from the heat of the battle, just for a while, and I started to realise that maybe we were pushing just a little too hard in a manner that could potentially and irretrievably damage our reputations as reasonable people. I KNOW that we are reasonable people and it pains me to see how blinkered we have become about the issues we confront. I have found some of the many twitter exchanges hard to read; forum posts that seem to do nothing but inflame and hurt people who are trying nothing more than to support our cause, but see it from a different point of view. Every time I see something where someone doesn’t fully understand or doesn’t support us, we turn like a pack of angry dogs looking for a bone to gnaw.
This clearly demonstrates our passion, but at the same time it has become personal and hurtful and damaging to all, both ‘them’ and ‘us’, if you will. We need to find positive means of engagement, not forceful, destructive methods to get people to understand and support vaping. We see vaping as a positive and beneficial thing and we want others to as well, so you may be able to understand why I am not fully supportive of snarky, hurtful comments in response to a tweet, or when a forum post descends into finger pointing and yet more hurtful and negative comments.
So now that I have made my point, you’re probably all shouting, ‘Well, smarty pants, what would you do? If you think you could do a better job!!’
Firstly, I believe we all need a few days out. Totally and completely. No twitter, no facebook, and no forums…..nothing to do with the vaping battle. It WILL still be here when you return. This is a time of reflection; a time to gather thoughts and ideas; a time to reject knee-jerk, panicked reactions of how to get people to listen. We need to think of ways to engage the media, yes, but MOST importantly we need to engage the general public – who already seem to be in broad support, but we can educate more of them. We need to STOP engaging with the likes of Simon Chapman, Stanton Glantz and public health nutters who are spouting on about totally unfounded dangers, and who have no evidence to support their claims. They do it to inflame us and it works every time! We know what the evidence says; we know that it supports us; and we know they know it, too. We have no need to argue with them; all it does is make us look just as unreasonable as them – and we could be better using our time educating, and engaging in a more positive, balanced outlook on our treasured vaping.
I know I may be unpopular for saying all of this, but I believe I am strong enough to take the beating, and if we all step back and look at it a little more objectively, am I wrong?
Please vapers, let’s not lose sight of who we are and what we wish to achieve; please don’t let our battle be lost; we need to be positive and kind and helpful. Is it essentially about regulations or is it about public health? Is it perhaps about giving the opportunity we have had to others who may wish to enjoy it, too?