Even by my standards, this blog and accompanying video are a little late being published, but better late than never I suppose!
On 4th March 2014, I, along with a small but enthusiastic group of British vapers accepted Nikki Sinclaire MEP’s invitation to visit the European Parliament in Brussels to “make a bit of noise” about the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) that had been approved the week before. Nikki’s party funded the journey, accommodation and even lunch in the parliament buildings for us, so all we had to spend was our beer money.
I don’t think anyone that attended on that day really believed that we could change the world with a single trip, but as can be seen in the video everyone had a message to convey and speaking for myself it served to vent a bit of frustration and also learn a bit more about how the EP is structured and functions. Of course, I’ve never been one to turn down a chance to hang out with other vapers either!
I found the experience to be incredibly useful and interesting. The sheer scale of the EU as an organisation is both impressive and daunting with huge decorative staircases, a vast labyrinth of corridors, state of the art debating chambers and even an in-house TV studio for propaganda! I found myself a little bit in awe of the surroundings to be honest, acutely aware of how much this must all cost us and increasingly frustrated that my hard earned taxes were financing the farcical legislation that is the TPD.
I should lay my cards on the table and state that I am not anti-EU; I owe my livelihood to the right to free travel and employment within the EU and the surrounding countries with which it has open-border agreements. But that doesn’t mean that I trust the EP to do the right thing every time, and it does nothing to lessen my irritation and anger at the way in which the negotiation of the TPD has taken place.
I remain enormously grateful to Nikki Sinclaire, and although my politics aren’t very close to hers I’m truly saddened that she was not re-elected as a West Midlands MEP in the recent elections. Many MEPs stated their opposition to the TPD and their support for vapers during the TPD process, some faltered at the end and either compromised or completely folded when it came to the final vote. Nikki however stood with us right to bitter end, and I’m sure that, like me, vapers won’t forget that and wish her well in whatever comes next. Thanks Nikki.
So, the video was shot on the hoof with little opportunity to stage proper interviews and consequently the quality is a bit ropey in places. It’s worth a watch though, especially if you were there on the day – Vape On!