Are the anti vaping groups committing human rights violations? When this question first came across my desk I was perplexed. In my mind, people committing human rights violations were monsters intent on mass murder. They normally had names that would scare children because of the amount of damage they left in their wake. I couldn’t imagine charity organisations and people who wanted to protect their children from tobacco products in this light, until I stepped back and gave the subject some serious thought. My mindset was one solely of human rights pertaining to war crimes but the subject pertains to every part of our every day lives.
Lets Start With Harm Reduction
Anyone who is honest at this point in time will agree that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking, even though the true number is probably closer to 100%. Right now, we are not dealing with the “fear factory horror studies” we are just going to take the British Government view as seen in the 5 year Public Health England study that came out a couple of months ago, which has resulted in Doctors over there recommending vaping to quit. The findings show that vaping has the potential to reduce harm to smokers on a massive scale, reducing if not removing the majority of illnesses attributed to combustible tobacco. From the stand point of the current smoker, electronic nicotine delivery systems are the harm reduction tool they have been waiting for. An excerpt from the International Harm Reduction Association defines Harm Reduction as:
‘‘Harm Reduction’ refers to policies, program’s and practices that aim primarily to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of the use of legal and illegal psychoactive drugs without necessarily reducing drug consumption. Harm reduction benefits people who use drugs, their families and the community.
By definition, Tobacco is a psychoactive drug, as it affects brain function resulting in temporary changes in perception, mood and behavior. This is not a definition to be afraid of, as in reality we ingest many psychoactive “drugs” on a daily basis without thought as caffeine and alcohol also fall under this heading. The fact that we, as ex-smokers, have taken the leap to still ingest nicotine without many of the associated risks shows that we have taken steps to reduce harm.
For the purpose of my thought process, I was and am still willing to accept that for over 20 years I was a drug user. Nicotine is by definition a psychoactive drug, therefore even though I now vape with nicotine in my products I am still a drug user. Granted my usage of the drug has seriously depleted over time, as I am now vaping e-liquids that are between 1.5 and 3 mg / ml nicotine content (when I started I was hammering 24 mg / ml). The following is from the IHRA document that promoted my thought process:
Harm reduction practitioners acknowledge the significance of any positive change that individuals make in their lives. Harm reduction interventions are facilitative rather than coercive, and are grounded in the needs of individuals. As such, harm reduction services are designed to meet people’s needs where they currently are in their lives. Small gains for many people have more benefit for a community than heroic gains achieved for a select few. People are much more likely to take multiple tiny steps rather than one or two huge steps. The objective of harm reduction in a specific context can often be arranged in a hierarchy with the more feasible options at one end (e.g. measures to keep people healthy) and less feasible but desirable options at the other end. Abstinence can be considered a difficult to achieve but desirable option for harm reduction in such a hierarchy. Keeping people who use drugs alive and preventing irreparable damage is regarded as the most urgent priority while it is acknowledged that there may be many other important priorities.
Dignity and compassion
Harm reduction practitioners accept people as they are and avoid being judgmental. People who use drugs are always somebody’s son or daughter, sister or brother or father or mother. This compassion extends to the families of people with drug problems and their communities. Harm reduction practitioners oppose the deliberate stigmatization of people who use drugs. Terminology and language should always convey respect and tolerance.
Universality and interdependence of rights
Human rights apply to everyone. People who use drugs do not forfeit their human rights, including the right to the highest attainable standard of health, to social services, to work, to benefit from scientific progress, to freedom from arbitrary detention and freedom from cruel inhuman and degrading treatment. Harm reduction opposes the deliberate hurts and harms inflicted on people who use drugs in the name of drug control and drug prevention, and promotes responses to drug use that respect and protect fundamental human rights.
Challenging policies and practices that maximize harm
Many factors contribute to drug-related risks and harms including the behavior and choices of individuals, the environment in which they use drugs, and the laws and policies designed to control drug use. Many policies and practices intentionally or unintentionally create and exacerbate risks and harms for drug users. These include: the criminalization of drug use, discrimination, abusive and corrupt policing practices, restrictive and punitive laws and policies, the denial of life-saving medical care and harm reduction services, and social inequities. Harm reduction policies and practice must support individuals in changing their behavior. But it is also essential to challenge the international and national laws and policies that create risky drug using environments and contribute to drug related harms.
As I thought of nicotine addiction in the terms that they laid out, it became clear that our human rights were actually under attack.
While we may not be getting thrown in jail in the United States, restrictive laws and policies are past the point of being prepared. We are awaiting the implementation of the FDA’s regulations that will in truth throw the Electronic Nicotine Delivery System back into the stone ages. Rather than supporting our changes in behavior, they seek to punish us as those who are still in the death clutches of combustible tobacco. To directly quote from the last paragraph above:
“Many policies and practices intentionally or unintentionally create and exacerbate risks and harms for drug users”.
In truth, by not understanding the fully functioning industry that the consumers have set up for themselves, the government and its Anti Vaping Militia are attempting to push us into its own thought process of QUIT OR DIE. They do not see us as a community devoted to the reduction of harm, not only to ourselves but every other smoker on the planet.
After reading this document and seriously thinking about the problem from the outside, I came to the conclusion that by attempting to shut down our industry, they are in fact no better than the men whose names strike fear into the hearts of children. It is a bitter pill to swallow, but they must realize that by taking the path they currently see as righteous they are potentially sentencing a Billion people over the next century to death.
Their actions today can cause the death of 1,000,000,000 humans.
As far as I know even the most despicable war monger’s in history have never come close to that number.
As always, enjoy your vaporizers and vape safe!