It has been a rather interesting winter here in the Antipodes…to say the least! Australian TC and their groupies have tried and, thus far, succeeded in preventing not only the legalisation of nicotine containing e liquid, but have also managed to make it clear that they wish not to entertain the thought through open discourse, transparency and logical assessment of the science regarding the topic. Not surprised, to be honest, but extremely disappointing that those who are mandated to prevent harm are, in fact, causing it.
Meanwhile, in New Zealand as we head into the last week before the general election, notifications were made of who the successful candidates for the Technical Expert Advisory Committee (TEAC) to make clear the requirements for the eventual legalisation of nicotine e liquid and nicotine containing reduced risk products in mid 2018. The lack of a true unbiased consumer voice on the TEAC is concerning. (Consumer definition in this context: someone who has utilised their own personal experiences with vape to help themselves and others and who has no fiscal vested interest in the eventual outcome.) When enquiries were made as to why none of the consumer representatives put forward for nomination were selected, the response was that there were more suitable candidates (??).
Ultimately, we can only hope that the selected members of the TEAC realise the task before them is vast, and hope they all realise that they are part of setting a precedent in not only New Zealand, but the rest of the world, especially in Asia Pacific. It is hoped that they understand the gravitas of their task and keep that in mind when having discourse and making decisions, fully understanding that THEY are mandated to represent the community before their own interests as outlined in the Terms of Reference for the committee,
At the local level around New Zealand (outside of the greater Auckland metropolitan area that is), DHBs are not willingly taking on board the MoH advice regarding vapers on board and are still marking them as smokers in their medical records – as well as advising local councils that the use of ELVS and vaping is just as bad as smoking and should be treated thusly. We have given consumers the information they need to fight back against the tide of ignorance and we seem to me making some headway, but it is slow going.
Part of this problem is the perception of vapers and vaping as some kind of countercultural fad – cloud chasers and tricksters. To put it bluntly, there is a lack of courtesy on the part of some vapers in public who feel no need to respect that maybe the person next to them doesn’t want a cloud of fruity flavoured vape in their face, which negatively impacts *all* vapers. There are also some who promote this behaviour as being “well within their rights” and will even blow clouds at TV cameras as a show of defiance. This is not about “self determination” this is about attention seeking and is immature at best. That being said, the *majority* of vapers get the courtesy thing, but the rebellious few who choose to behave inappropriately make the most impact on public perception.
What are the rest of us doing? Exercising our right to choose a less harmful method of nicotine consumption and advocating for education and information that will help others make the best choice for THEIR individual needs. As we (consumers) are not represented on the TEAC, we can only hope that those tasked with the responsibility and that answers are found as to the reasoning behind this exclusion of the wider community and their interests south of the Bombay Hills.