Thursday, 3 March 2016

E-cigarettes are improving our health and saving lives - so, obviously, the EU wants to stamp out vaping

Big Bertha
The only thing that makes scare stories about the dangers of e-cigarettes bearable is that you know - with absolute certainty - that a far more credible rebuttal will appear within an hour or two. My favourite "vaping is just as harmful as smoking" fiction of the last three months was the scary news that most brands of e-juice (i.e. vaping liquid) contains diacetyl, a flavouring agent known to cause a horrible condition known as "popcorn lung", (so-named  because it has been found in some people working in popcorn factories). I thought about panicking when I read the news, but decided to wait a bit. Turns out that diacetyl is also present in cigarettes - at concentrations up to 750 times higher than in e-juice. Oddly, this rather pertinent piece of information didn't find its way into this NHS Choices article on the "findings" linking the lung-wrecking chemical and e-cigarettes.

The problem with the health Nazis' preferred approach (i.e instantly go to DEFCON III over every single smidgin of information - no matter how tenuous - suggesting that there's the slightest chance that e-cigarettes are damaging vapers' health) is that if any definitive proof ever emerges that vaping really is bad for you, we puffers will dismiss it as yet another hysterical smear designed to terrify us into quitting nicotine, and we'll just carry on inhaling.

Having failed to halt the spread of vaping (there are between 2.6m and 3m vapers in Britain), the EU has decided it's time to make it as hard - and expensive - for smokers to quit cigarettes as possible. After all, smoking is wicked, and people who want to stop doing it should be made to suffer. So, from 20th May, we'll only be able to buy e-juice in tiny 10ml bottles; the maximum amount of nicotine in e-liquid will be set at 20mg (I'm a 24mg man myself); and the size of clearomizers (i.e. the containers into which we junkies squirt our e-juice if we've been successful in scoring from "The Man" - our local newsagent, in my case) will be limited to 2ml: my mighty Nautilus clearomizer - Big Bertha, as I fondly refer to her - holds up to 5ml, which means I only have to refill her once a day. (Requirements regarding the grade of nicotine used by manufacturers won't matter, because UK manufacturers already meet them.)

There were also plans to outlaw refillable tanks, thus forcing vapers to use incredibly expensive and deeply unsatisfying cigarette-like e-cigs, which require the frequent purchase of grotesquely over-priced and inefficient cartridges that look like cigarette filters. I used them for 15 months before my fellow nicotine addict, David Moss (who's been off cigarettes for well over a year now - congratulations!), introduced me to the delights of proper, grown-up vaping. Sealed cartridges were better than nothing - but at least three times as expensive and one-third as effective or as satisfying as e-juice based devices: cartridges are pants.

So, what is the point of all this pernickety, nit-picking nonsense from the EU? Presumably to make vaping less attractive. Why would they want to do that? Because EU bureaucrats are mean-minded puritans who can't stand the thought of people innocently enjoying themselves - especially if the activity is exponentially less harmful than the main alternative - without feeling a burning desire to interfere and spoil it all. And, being socialists, they can't abide the idea of mainly small commercial companies operating within the free market (well, free-ish) making a profit from products which are improving people's health - because, as we know, "helping" us is the sole preserve of bureaucrats, politicians, academics and sundry "experts", working in league with vast corporations, gaily squandering our taxes (mainly on themselves) in the process. As for us, the voters who are enjoying and benefitting from the products offered by the e-cigarette industry - well, we can fuck right off, because we're too stupid to weigh up the consequences of our own behaviour, and Brussels bureaucrats know best.

In case you imagined for one moment that the measures outlined above represent the limit of the EU's ambitions to destroy the nascent vaping industry, think again. There are serious proposals on the table to introduce high levels of excise duty on e-liquids across the EU from next year. According to an article in yesterday's Guardian:
E-cigarettes are poised to be taxed at a higher rate across Europe, with France and two other nations calling for a minimum excise duty to be set at “the highest common denominator”.
EU diplomats unanimously agreed a call for the European commission to prepare a legislative proposal by 2017, in a draft document seen by the Guardian that EU finance ministers will sign off at a meeting next Tuesday.
When the EU referendum is held on Thursday, 23rd June, British voters will have the opportunity - their last opportunity - to turn their backs on the EU. I am one of the millions of people in this country very much looking forward to pressing the "reply" button and telling the EU to fuck right off.

I'll give you my Aspire Nautilus clearomizer and genuine Eleaf 40w iStick battery when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. And I very much doubt if it's those bits of kit that will have killed me.

(Not, of course, that these islands don't produce their own fair share of self-regarding, interfering, busy-body, left-wing idiots - Scotland has just banned the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone below the age of 18. Yup - best if Scottish kids stick to fags, thereby ensuring that Scotland maintains its proud record of having one of the highest rates of lung cancer in the world. Still, I bet the politicians who passed the law feel really good about themselves - and, after all, that's what really matters.)


  1. Too terrified to buy WI jam and unable to buy green top milk, the dizzying innovation of the vaping world came as a revelation to me ...

    ... which is an index of just how sad I am qua product of the welfare state.

    Can I recommend 'The King' from Digbys Juices. Peanut butter vape – it's what he would have wanted.

    Hypocrisy in the world of public health? Surely not. And yet, would you believe it, that's what Christopher Snowdon suggests.

    1. Two Daily Mail headlines:

      January 14th 2016: "E-cigarettes WON'T help you quit: Smokers using vapers are '28% less likely to ditch traditional cigarettes'"

      9th March 2016: "E-cigarettes are now the most popular way of quitting smoking, helping 20,000 people in England kick the habit last year"


    2. An interesting quote from the first of Mail articles:

      "...two weeks ago the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency approved the first vaping device for medical use. The e-Voke, an e-cigarette produced by British American Tobacco, is now allowed to be marketed for smoking cessation, which means patients can request the device from their GP."

      The e-Voke is one of those device looks like a cigarette, and comes with sealed replacement cartridges - making the experience very cigarette-like. The EU is looking at banning vapes which use tanks which are refillable with eliquid - eliquid which is mainly made by small companies in the entrepreneurial Wild West that is the vaping industry at this stage.

      This couldn't possibly be an example of corporatism at work, could it - Big Tobacco working hand in hand with EU bureaucrats to kill off small, independent businesses? I have no idea - but it strikes me that a crusading blogger with a grasp of science and bureaucratic jiggery-pokery might investigate and tell us. Because this story is set to run and run, and reliable information will be hard to come by. Just a thought.

  2. Replies
    1. But I hear Krushchev was convinced that ecigs stiffened one's aorta. Still, you pays your money...