Saturday, 27 June 2015

Astrotuf Accusations Towards Vaping Advocates revisited

My first encounter with this astroturf term was in 2013 and was made by an obscure Irish MEP Paul Murphy, this excellent blog from the highly recommended Dick Puddlecote explains with great clarity and style , I readily admit I had to read what the definition  of astroturf accurately meant when it was first mooted, as I had never encountered the term previously.

MP + Regulators
The term was a  cynical dismissal of the many thousands of people throughout the EU who objected to ill thought through EU legislation :- the TPD, accusations are made, has anyone ever been named in this fantasy world that exists for some unaccountable unapproachable politicians ? MP are obliged to meet with constituents who request such meetings (sometimes with a bit of persistence on our part), but surprisingly no such obligations exist for MEP,AM and presumably MSP,MLA! the meeting is an important aspect of demonstrating that we are real people ,with genuine concerns and a very powerful individual story to be told, that is hard to ignore. I can imagine that totally uninformed legislators of whatever hue may well dismiss hundreds of e-mails,tweets,petitions or any other impersonal representation as organised  anecdotes.
My own MP Glyn Davies  has been met by myself and partner Eirlys on a number of occasions, and whether we have played any part in his education and tacit support is debatable, but Montgomeryshire contains few vapers and even fewer retailers (none in fact) and Glyn is a member and vice chairman of the new APPG on e-cigarettes  so just maybe our meetings were not in vain

To complete this section is simple - I appeal to everyone to meet with their representatives to at least make them aware that you are real, and  that you are very concerned with upcoming legislation that they may well not be fully familiar with, or understand its impact on YOU.

Public Health 

Here, it is totally wrong to tar and generally label all with the same brush , in fact it is only the very vocal minority who have accused Vapers of 'astroturf' . This minority though have senior positions ,have influence and have earned reputations whether deserved or not as 'experts', many excellent blogs exist eg and cover this particularly well and the response here from Robert West  to a recent BMJ article is a masterclass in subtlety directed towards the noisy outspoken ones written by a man who is a genuine expert in the field of smoking cessation unlike the others.

My interpretation of what he wrote could well differ from others was along the lines of stfu and leave a subject you know nothing about alone to genuine experts not overblown windbags pontificating or manufacturing fake concerns and accusations

With all of the resources available to some of these 'experts' why is innuendo still the tactic when accusations of astroturf are forwarded?  Are they going to attempt to name names ?

Of course they bloody well can't. Its a manufactured figment of their imagination that educated passionate people could not possibly inform themselves to  such an extent that  lies, spin,junk science and pronouncements are robustly challenged and not dutifully accepted.

 More thoughtful,open-minded  PH colleagues must be horrified at this ongoing so called debate conducted in an increasingly acrimonious public manner, High level conferences or meetings have been called for from many quarters to arrive at solutions, however the vociferous ones seem unwilling or unable to attend.

50 million current e-cig consumers and billions of smokers worldwide deserve far better than this shambolic game that is happening with THR denial, nicotine demonisation,and accusations of astroturf from faded/befuddled academics who have lost sight of the big picture. Smokefree targets are appearing in every country, without a consensus, imagination, and attractive alternatives these targets are a pipe-dream with negligible chance of success.

To end this on a positive note, although this only seems to currently apply to parts of the UK :-

Recent announcements and position statements by Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation ,ASH(all UK),Fresh NE, Tenovus, NCSCT, Public Health(England)RCP ,CIEH,encouragingly seem to prefer an  evidence based approach towards e-cigarettes as opposed to the moral panic,fake concerns and disinformation regularly disseminated by others such as BMA,FPH,WHO,CDC


  1. 2 in a day? Are you trying to shame me? :-)
    Good blog - needed to be said.

    1. Ta Liam , trying to spur you into action Liam yes :-)

  2. Thanks Alan,
    I'll be following your blog with interest.

  3. Well said Alan.

    1. Cheers Rob,time for dinosaurs to adapt :-)

  4. Great post Alan - there is no stopping you now 😜
    Totally agree with your thoughts.
    Linda Mcaven my local MP totally refuses to meet!

  5. Seems ridiculous that the oldest system(MP) is not at least matched or exceeded by newer democratic institutions wrt meeting obligation with their constituents. Its a shame you cannot get to see Ms McAvan, sadly this 2yo interview is all we seemingly have from MVB and VTTV