Don’t go there. Don’t… Oh. They went there.

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In a poorly disguised piece of political lobbying, two state-funded Swedish ANTZ groups wrapped up a call for extreme measures on vaping in a huge “Think of the Chiiildren” blanket this week.

Their demands for public vaping bans, total bans on advertising and marketing of e-cigarettes and flavour bans are ridiculous measures that will have the biggest effect on adult smokers, vapers and vendors. So the only way they could present them to the public (without provoking laughter, followed by calls for their funding to be stopped), was to link all these prohibitionist wet dreams to the fact that it isn’t currently illegal to sell ecigs to under-18s.

As I have written before, the only reason why the Swedish government has been unable to follow other EU countries and introduce sales bans to under-18s is because they can’t legislate such restrictions while the Medicines Authority is busy in court trying to classify (and therefore ban) all ecigs as illegal medicines. Whatever your views on the potential harms/benefits of under-18 sales bans, the “problem” is one created by Sweden’s bureacracy, NOT by “evil” vendors. And as also covered before, vendors in Sweden are displaying admirable responsibility in this area. Under 18s are likely to be getting hold of ecigs from the same people they get cigarettes and snus from, despite the long-standing bans on under-18 sales for these products.

They even had the gall to squeal about rising “ever-use” of ecigs as evidence of the inevitability of the now legendary “gateway to smoking”. Yet the National CAN Survey of 16-18yo Swedish students that they cite with such outrage shows quite clearly that smoking rates have been dropping (as they have in every other country with ecigs, eh Prof Chapman) with each and every year that ecigs have been available. If 16-year-olds have actually discovered this mythical gateway, they’re taking an age to walk through it.

The authors represent two groups that might be familiar – one became infamous for organising a “fall-down-and-die” prank – a la South Park (complete with a Pfizer fiddler to call the tune), and for their bizarre “Let’s peer-pressure (sic) Daniel Radcliffe into stopping smoking” campaign and also for building a “Fear Clinic” in Minecraft, complete with burny, smoky things on the wall and a shrink to talk to. They also have some dubious partners when you consider their attitude towards vaping. The other group seem to like to spend their time throwing “snus cushions” around at political events. For this article, they threw in all the usual lies, misinformation and junk-science to “support” their demands, which were exposed by Atakan Befrits here.

But the real humdinger, hidden at the tail-end of a paragraph about health risk wibble, was a statement of “fact” that, as far as I am aware, has only ever been reported second-hand by journalists and ANTZ groups, in a “Don’t blame me, I’m as thick as pigshit when it comes to reading and understanding science, so I’ll use the handy prefix “according to this study/ this researcher”” kind of way.

They wrote “E-cigarettes can cause…an increased risk of lung cancer.”

Now that’s a pretty bold thing to write in a national newspaper. Particularly when the assertion is made with no evidence whatsoever to support it. I contacted a few Swedish vendors to bring this to their attention, figuring that at the very least they ought to demand some sort of official, written apology, even if they refrain from calling the lawyers. One of the vendors got on the case immediately, and penned this reply to the article.

It actually contains a reasonable response to the gist of the article given the limited space allowed, stating that everyone in the industry would welcome sensible but proportional regulations. But it then drifts into an oddly protectionist vibe, calling for a stop to the trade in “unregulated products, mostly from China”, which, given there is currently no regulation anywhere (apart from the 17-odd national & EU regs covering electronics & general consumer, natch), is exactly what they themselves sell.

The reply does make vague reference to the original authors’ wild and unsupported scaremongering, but stops short of mentioning the elephant in the room. Then it encourages the government to slap sin taxes on ecigs.

Some days, there simply aren’t enough facepalms to go round.

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6 thoughts on “Don’t go there. Don’t… Oh. They went there.

  1. There is no proof of harm for vaping and yet we wish to age restrict it as a tobacco product condemning the youth to convention tobacco products for the first that they experiment and getting them addicted to tobacco as so many of us were. Why do we not leave it up to the parents decision of weather or not they should vape, it is in all studies less harmful than even sugar and yet we do not put 19+ on the candy store door, high schools sell energy drinks right in the cafeterias and pop machines loaded with caffine and sugar. There is not one documented case of vaping causing lung disease or cancer in over a decade and science proves it to be harmless, yes harmless check the facts! So due to appearance we will condemn the youth to tobacco and they will experiment with tobacco if they cannot acquire ecigarettes and yes will become dependent on nicotine since you cannot buy a nicotine free cigarette, all due to the appearance, is this logical or are we just giving in to their preposterous claims and propaganda?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re absolutely right – it may be a controversial subject, but as I have blogged before, it is perhaps more controversial that governments prefer to pretend that risky behaviour isn’t happening, and prohibit access to effective harm reduction products for young smokers until people reach 18.

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  2. Surely there’s an own goal being scored here?

    If the Swedish authorities are determined to license e-cigs as medicine, the big pharma/tobacco industry will get licenses from LMV for their shitsticks. When your vape becomes a medicinal device, I’m really looking forward to the first time I’m told “You can’t do that in here!!”

    If my vape is a medicine that I have a prescription for, how on earth can anyone demand that I can’t vape in my local pub? (At the moment, it’s not a problem, but then again, I don’t sit there with a cloud chasing atomiser and upset my fellow drinkers.)

    This particular game is far from over.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So far it hasn’t really been an issue Mike, as there aren’t a huge amount of vapers in Sweden. I’ve been welcomed by owners and managers to vape in many pubs & clubs (they like the fact that they wouldn’t need to employ as many staff to monitor people going in/out and the noise for neighbours of having half your customers outside half the time. Plus they know that vapour, like secondhand smoke, is so mild as to be considered harmless). Sadly I fear that as vaping takes off, it will be much simpler to ban indoor (& before long outdoor) vaping in Sweden compared to other countries. Even on vaping forums and in comments to articles, Swedish vapers often behave like browbeaten appeasers who will gladly send themselves outside for fear of offending anyone. I believe this defensive, back-foot strategy is mistaken, but my opinion counts for little as a foreigner. Swedes don’t like conflict, or people rocking the boat, so I can understand why vapers here are less beligerant than they are in other countries. As for the eventual possibility of med-regged devices, they’ll get banned everywhere too, and no-one (or at least not enough to do anything about it), will complain.

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  3. It’s true that the Swedes are legendarily bad at standing up for themselves against the iniquities visited upon them by the government. At the same time, I’m seeing a broad cynicism developing towards the entrenched political classes who view the country’s citizens as incapable of making decisions for themselves. Over the 20-odd years I’ve been here, I’m hearing more and more Swedes express genuine contempt for the political status quo. We can only hope that the younger generation manage to unite in their opposition to today’s corrupt and cronyistic political elite. I’ve certainly done my bit by fostering a healthy distrust of authority in my children and even pulling them out of ‘classes’ at school presented by the bigoted and poisonous temperance movement!

    Of course, the anti-vaping lies and propaganda will continue to flow as the pharma companies attempt to shore up their massive profits from ineffective NRT products. The puritanical public health tax spongers will continue to demonize vaping and everything else that is even remotely fun.

    The vaping genie is out of the bottle though and attempts to put it back are inevitably doomed to failure. I’m still hopeful that Sweden’s medical regulation approach will backfire on them. If a vaping device does receive a license from LMV, it can only work against those who condemn vaping out of spite or to protect their profits.

    For my part, I have good stocks of nicotine in the freezer and an arsenal of rebuildable vaping devices that will keep me vaping into my retirement, regardless of how things turn out. It’s those smokers who may be denied access to the best invention ever for quitting cigarettes who I feel sorry for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Superb comment – thanks. And I hope you’re right, and that the tides really are turning. As for the LMV case, I wonder if the government might now actually prefer the TPD option, and apply pressure to go down that route. Being the only country with a medreg ban might be a bit too “out on a limb” for a country that doesn’t like to rock the boat, and they may feel that the TPD restrictions & bans offer them the kind of compromise they could live with (not to mention the chance to avoid the risk of medregs backfiring, as you pointed out). The TPD is also a bureaucrat’s dream – lots of forms, rules and, most importantly, state licensing opportunities and fees to play with. Suits Sweden perfectly!

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