This is a guest post from Mark Benson – www.okcigs.co.uk
Do politicians know what is best for the vaping community?
While the vaping community is headline news at the moment with the industry going from strength to strength, how many people had heard of vaping less than five years ago? If you look back in history you will see that the vaping industry only really came to life at the turn-of-the-century and indeed it only really hit the big time over the last two or three years. This was a sector which was ignored not only by the politicians and regulators but, perhaps surprisingly, by the large financial powerhouses which are today’s tobacco giants.
Over the last few months you will have seen an array of scaremongering, headline grabbing criticism and regulatory issues discussed in great detail across the Internet. Despite the fact that politicians ignored the industry less than a decade ago, they now seem to have taken the moral high ground and “know what is best” for the vaping industry.
Why are politicians so interested in the vaping industry?
When you put together politicians and tobacco taxes some would say this is a financial match made in heaven with the tobacco companies penalised for alleged medical issues relating to their products and the politicians happy to take on board a new income stream. Once the issue of “compensation” was agreed between the governments of the world and tobacco giants it seemed to be perfect for all parties, except perhaps the general public?
In the words of Gandhi “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win.”
Who is laughing now?
Even though some politicians continue to circulate rumours and untruths about the electronic cigarette industry, such as allegations the industry is targeting minors and it is a gateway back to tobacco cigarettes, the truth is finally starting to emerge. A number of long-term research trials have blown away the issues of targeting minors and the supposed gateway back to tobacco cigarettes but many politicians and critics of the industry continue to circulate their own version of the truth.
One of the major elements of this particular scenario which is often ignored is the fact that a political life can be a very short life and very few are able to look beyond the short-term. As governments, politicians and regulators try to bring electronic cigarettes under the same rules and regulations as their tobacco counterparts, are they not missing out on the long-term benefits?
Jam today or jam tomorrow?
Unfortunately many governments around the world, especially in these times of austerity, have come to depend upon tobacco taxes which earn them billions of dollars each and every year. This very useful income stream has helped to balance many budgets around the world and with the margin between success and failure ever slimmer tobacco tax income will be required for some time to come. What about the potential medium to long-term cost savings available by simply encouraging people to switch from tobacco to vaping devices?
One of the main arguments used to push through the tobacco taxes was the added cost to public services such as healthcare when alleged medical issues relating to tobacco were taken into consideration. Whether or not legally the tobacco companies admitted any potential liability we did see an array of financial arrangements put in place which seemed to suit all parties. However, the authority seem to be looking very short-term because we can only imagine the potential cost savings in areas such as healthcare and lost time to local and worldwide economies. Surely by encouraging, or at least not attempting to block, the use of electronic cigarettes there would be even greater medium to long-term financial benefits not to mention improvements in general health?
Can you blame the politicians?
The sad fact is that politicians and governments of today live for today because, as we mentioned above, the life of a modern day politician can be extremely short. Perhaps if governments around the world looked a little more long-term, were open to new ideas and suggestions, perhaps the take-up of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices would be even greater. Until the authorities are able to look beyond the short-term benefits of tobacco tax income it seems that the vaping community will need to fight harder and harder to stand still.