Mother Teresa once famously said “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”
I love this quote. These days, angry protesting is somehow labelled as ‘freedom of speech’ but, in fact, all it achieves is heightened, misguided negativity surrounding a particular topic without a focus on the ultimate objective: resolving issues by focusing on the best positive outcomes, as opposed to being polluted by a pessimistic mindset.
I learned a lot from this quote over the years. Focus on the solution, not the problem.
We live in a world where personal opinions are no longer valued or used as a tool for constructive change, but rather a tool for ego and self-validation. Uneducated headlines from mainstream media have become the catalyst for people to suddenly make up their minds about topics they in fact no absolutely nothing about.
They are inescapable, and I too have been guilty of this in the past. We all have.
My generation – the adults of the social media age; the founding generation if you will – still remember what it was like to ride a bike to your friend’s place to hang out and talk about girls/boys; send written letters and cards; go to the library to research a topic (using actual books), and even calling your friends on the landline only to be yelled at by a parent on the receiving end for cutting off the internet connection.
One of the most common of these was, and still is, sneaking a cigarette wherever and whenever possible. Teens will be teens.
Human connection wasn’t as simple as the ‘swipe’. It was about making a conscious effort to be completely present in communication.
Then along came ICQ, and MSN Messenger. Our feelings and opinions were no longer spoken words, but abbreviations. As our connections and conversations with people all over the world became instant, our communicative endeavours and our actual opinions slowly became influenced, and we as people slowly became more distant.
A whole new world was created, and well, you know the rest.
The internet is incredible. So many revolutionary and constructive technologies have been created by it, contributing to a positive future for the world we live in.
Information, connectivity, health, now even food delivery and dating are things we don’t have to think about or approach face-to-face anymore. Sadly, neither are political agendas and opinions, and worst of all, bullying. Or as it’s now known, ‘trolling’.
Like many, I probably spend too much time on social media to get the latest information and opinions on what’s happening around the world. News, sport, education, entertainment, lifestyle, current affairs, and even ridiculous cat videos are all accessible at the touch of a button.
No matter what the topic is, it will always attract some form of negativity by the haters – the keyboard warriors (trolls) that get self-gratification by being bullies. I’ve even seen puppy rescue and adoption videos with thumbs down responses and baseless arguments in the comment thread.
“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
This mantra that was instilled by many parents around the world just does not resonate with people anymore, because the fact is, you don’t have to say it these days. Just type it anonymously.
This is the new world.
We are so quick to jump to misguided and uneducated conclusions – to join the ‘witch hunt’ if you will – on the topic of the day. Even something that has been proven and holds the potential to do so much good will no doubt receive a huge amount of pushback by an individual or groups alike. This is the online world we live in now.
I was a smoker for over 10 years and I’m ashamed to say I absolutely loved it. After an unbelievable amount of failed attempts, I was convinced that I would never give up smoking.
Sorrowfully, this is the shared reality of millions of Australians today and hundreds of millions worldwide. Many of these people have shared their stories and cries for help only to be ignored and shut down by misleading headlines, manifesting into false opinions by the miscreant policy-makers whose ‘personal opinions’ are preached as gospel to an uninformed and avoidably dying group of people.
Something I believe in so strongly, something I believe saved my life, something that won’t be constructively listened to or talked about face to face continues to fall on deaf ears as the people in suits with full pockets continue to bury their heads in the sand about the future of tobacco harm reduction.
It blows my mind that no matter who you are, addicted or not addicted, first time or full-time smoker, a person of 18 years+ is freely allowed to purchase a packet of cigarettes in Australia with no restrictions on the purchasing process, just a swift and simple transaction with just a few warnings on the packet.
There is something out there that the whole world has caught on to, something that is saving millions of lives. Something that the Australian government wants to deflect by instilling false fear in its people.
This something I’m talking about is e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are commonly known as vaporizers or vaping products. They simulate the sensation of smoking by using battery-powered devices that heat liquids (usually containing nicotine) into an aerosol for inhalation.
In short, vaping delivers nicotine and relieves the urge to smoke by satisfying withdrawals and cravings. As there is no combustion, no smoke means no clinically significant levels of toxins are created.
The click-bait I was referring to earlier can be applied to some of the following “headlines” that circulated their way through the news, and through social media feeds.
E-cigarette smoke damages DNA and reduces repair activity in mouse lung, heart, and bladder as well as in human lung and bladder cells.
Vaping Causes Cancer, Says New E-cigarette Research.
Warning – scientists fear vaping could be WORSE for your health than actual smoking.
None of the above headlines come close to being a fair and objective analysis of the health effects of vaping. In the ten years since vaping has been available, no evidence of harm in human users has been found, this despite an extraordinary level of scrutiny from the international anti-smoking community.
A perfect example of how broken the “debate” is was a LADBible article titled ‘BREAKING: Vaping Causes Cancer, Says New E-cigarette Research’.
Unfortunately, the editors saw fit that anyone debating this baseless claim was immediately silenced by being marked as spam. The congregation of vape-haters were given a field day, spreading voluminous ‘I told you so’ comments and other negative misinformation from a complex topic they read in JUST the headline. This happens again and again, all over social media and on mainstream news websites.
It’s been said before and I’ll say it again: You can’t believe everything you read.
To make matters worse, in a country that prides itself as diplomatic, fair and ahead of the curve, Australia couldn’t be further away from these self-proclaimed labels when it comes to public health
Around new nicotine technology. Let’s talk facts:
- E-cigarettes are at least 95 per cent less harmful than smoking. Why? Zero combustion means zero smoke, and it is the smoke that contains the health-destroying toxins.
- The public has been woefully misled in its understanding of nicotine. Fewer than 10 per cent of adults understands that the harms to health from smoking are not caused by nicotine.
- Tobacco remains a significant cause of death and disability in Australia. Around 3.3 million Australians still smoke, and an estimated 19,000 people die each year of smoking-related illness.
- E-cigarettes are approximately 90 per cent cheaper than traditional cigarettes
- E-cigarettes are not completely risk-free, but they are vastly safer than smoking. Other studies published in October 2017 concluded that the vapour from an e-cigarette is 57,000 times less dangerous than smoking.
- E-cigarettes are a heterogeneous group of technologies. Unlike smoking, if a risk were to be found from a particular ingredient or a process, that ingredient or process could be removed.
- Governments have a conflict of interest: In the latest federal budget, the Australian government forecasts that by 2020 it will collect $15.2 billion from taxes on tobacco per This tax is only legitimate because of the harm that smoking causes.
- Smokers are, typically, found in the lower-income segments of society. Those who continue to smoke despite tax increases disproportionately suffer economic consequences. Vaping is considerably cheaper than smoking, largely because no one has dared to put in place “sin excise taxes” on products that are known to be so vastly safer than smoking.
- Millions of smokers have reported quitting using a personal vaporiser in Britain, the United States, and Europe. For example, over six million people reported quitting smoking with a vaporizer in the European Union in a study in 2014. In the US there were 2.6 million former smokers who had switched completely to vaping in 2016 and 1.5 million in the UK in 2017.
- The only thing smoking doesn’t kill is the Australian government.
Even as the popularity of e-cigarettes increases globally, with attendant declines in the populations of people that smoke, Australia’s smoking rate (minimally declining in comparison, possibly flatlining, and even increasing according to certain reports) has prompted nothing but bans for non-pharmaceutical (vaping) approved products, as well as adding an enormous 12.5 per cent per/year price increase over a four year period (currently $40AUD) per packet of cigarettes.
Fewer smokers are not good for business, but dedicated smokers will pay any price, and more than make up the difference in lost government revenues from quitters.
The government’s argument (supported by the anti-smoking community). The higher the prices are for cigarettes the less likely people are to purchase them. Think about it: Win, Win.
Governments have a duty to listen to the people; to always put the people they govern first.
Well, not in Australia when it comes to Vaping. It’s just a big fat NO.
When it comes to smoking, the Australian government has already chosen who it wants to listen to. Not smokers, but the anti-smoking activists; people that have been antipathetic to vaping since day one.
By all means, they say you can purchase products from overseas for personal use, but the sale and distribution of nicotine products on Australian shores is illegal and classified as a criminal act. Cigarettes will always be available for sale, and anyone of legal age can walk into a store and purchase a packet, no questions asked.
But, should you want a product that simulates the sensation of smoking while delivering nicotine without any of the carcinogens or the other 7,000 unknown chemicals, the response you’ll receive is plain and simple.
Quit or Die.
For any politician reading this that says “well I didn’t smoke and my children most definitely won’t either”, you are dreaming to project your own personal circumstance and belief onto the rest of the world and the country you govern.
Go and try to tell that to the millions who have lost loved ones, and the millions who are still smoking their way to an early grave as you continue to withhold this life saving “golden egg”.
Grow up and be responsible.
If you were told that ‘something’ was 10 per cent less harmful to you, would you embrace it? Take smoking and vaping out of the picture, as they will always be sensitive and controversial topics.
Just 10 per cent in the right direction could do wonderful things for getting you back on track to a healthier you. Now back to vaping, which is at least 95 per cent less harmful (and most probably much less harmful than that)
Australia is classified as one of the most overweight/obese countries in the world, affecting both children and adults (almost two in three Australian adults). Personally, I feel the priorities of this country are all too mixed up to even begin reasoning with. We have to begin paying attention to the facts and the rest of the world, for your choices can save thousands of lives.
Sugar, candy, and sodas are the ‘gateway’ to type two diabetes, yet are constantly advertised to children.
All this arguing has to stop.
All this chatter, drinking and canapés in Parliament House (yes I have witnessed this with my own eyes) as politicians jump room to room finding topics that make a suitable fit for their agenda while repeating the word “constituents”. I’d say 90 per cent of the dinosaurs didn’t even know what an e-cigarette was, and they’re not willing to research it so the attitude is to just ban it.
The time will come when all of the nonsense will be over and the Australian government will look as foolish as they did through the plebiscite for same-sex marriage. A budget of $122 million was allocated to that disaster, which saw a country lock horns and, essentially, just waste a lot of money and paper.
We become the laughing stock to the rest of the world.
The “Yes” vote saw 61.6 per cent of Australians agree that the people of our great country have the right to love and marry whomever they desire. Why should we be denied the right to live a longer healthier life? It’s time to learn from your mistakes.
In this day and age, it’s all too easy to ignore the side of the argument that isn’t being pushed via the mainstream media, and it’s a sad world when the media’s side is usually not the one that should be in focus.
I must commend the amazing and tireless work of Legalize Vaping Australia, for all they have done for this misunderstood and continuously ignored industry, for uniting people all over the country to speak up and tell their side of the story and cementing a place towards a smoke-free future.
I’m a proud Australian. I love my country. We really are a special lot. But it’s time we catch up to the rest of the world.
Finally, to the various government of Australia. I will not participate in your anti-vape campaigns or your uneducated one-sided arguments.
But, as soon as you’re ready to talk solutions, I’ll be there.
Ryan Gelbart is co-founder CCO of Vapetrotter.com.
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