With EU elections coming up, who should vapers vote for?
Surveys suggest that vaping is an important issue for many of us:
So while I hope you don't think I am trying to tell you how to vote, I thought a quick summary of where the EU parties (parliamentary parties often have quite different positions) stand on ecigarettes might help.
UKIP, on paper at least have been a strong supporter of vaping.
Nigel Farage has even appeared on video (with one of our tank kits!) saying how marvellous he thinks electronic cigarettes are.
Here's the video:
Unfortunately, UKIP's voting record is patchy.
And in one key vote, two thirds of UKIP MEPS didn't vote:
While a vote for UKIP isn't a vote against ecigarettes, be aware that while UKIP talk the talk, they don't always walk the walk!
Labour MEP Linda McAven has spearheaded a campaign against electronic cigarettes, just as Labour is also doing in Wales.
(With reports that at least one Labour Minister vapes, I am hoping the parliamentary party will eventually take a different approach.)
In fact, McAven has also been accused by Order Order of running a fake question and answer session on electronic cigarettes, with soft questions fed to her by colleagues.
In addition, according to ex Action on Smoking and Health boss, Clive Bates, one of her amendments would have meant a ban on all ecigarettes.
As a result of Linda's stance on ecigarettes, she has become a hate figure for many vapers, as images like one the below show:
(Update: Corbyn, on the other hand, is strongly in favour of e-cigarettes!)
The EU Conservatives have had a very different approach from the parliamentary party. (That's the same parliamentary party that ACCIDENTALLY voted to ban electronic cigarettes - see the astonishing video below!)
However, the EU Conservatives ignored directions from the parliamentary party, and took a principled approach to ecigarettes, despite the fact it opened them up to accusations that they were supporting tobacco.
They even managed to get a vote on electronic cigarettes separated from the EU tobacco products directive - unfortunately, it was just 40 minutes before the vote, and too late to inform their allies!
Whatever else your thoughts on the (EU) Conservatives, there's no doubt that they are huge supporters of vapers.
On a personal note, Conservative MEP, Dr Kay Swinbourne, has twice set aside time to meet me, discuss vaping and offer advice on how to combat vaping bans (see Defeating the ECIG Ban: Advice from an MEP).
The Liberal Democrats
The EU Liberal Democrats have also been supporters of electronic cigarettes, and fought against the medicalisation of ecigarettes.
I was impressed that despite an initial sceptical position, Liberal Democrats proved willing to discuss the issues with vapers, and to listen to the evidence. That made a stark contrast to Labour's Linda McAven who, on Twitter at least, ignores tweets from vapers.
Lib Dems like Rebecca Taylor went on to campaign against the regulation of ecigs, as well as writing articles such as this one.
However, some vapers were angry that they agreed to compromise regulations on electronic cigarettes which could still mean that refillable electronic cigarettes are banned.
Despite this, their approach certainly beats that of Labour!
While I have spoken to Plaid Cymru AMs, I have yet to speak to any Plaid Cymru MEPs.
However, every Plaid Cymru AM I have spoken to has been positive about electronic cigarettes, and they have confirmed their party is against a ban on ecigarettes in public places.
If you know more than me about Plaid Cymru's EU position, please let me know!
Over To You!
If you know of any MEPs who deserve our support for their efforts to save vaping, please let me know in the comments! I'd also be interested to know if vaping will influence your vote!