As MEP for the West Midlands, I have made it a priority to be “just more than Europe”. Although I have fought, and continue the fight for an In or Out referendum on EU membership, I’ve also focussed on community issues. My work is constituent led, so I’ve dealt with all sorts of topics, ranging from football in the community to food banks. The work and causes are all wildly different – and I love it.
E-Cigarettes are both a European issue and a local issue. Vapers, in their successful attempts to contact their local MEPs, have become the most popular topic in my inbox. In fact, when I first started researching this whole debate, I was quite overwhelmed by the strength of feeling about the potential ban.
So I’ve taken on the fact. I’ve voted in the Parliament against the effective ban. I’ve submitted questions to the European Commission, and more importantly, I’ve met with vapers themselves.
The BBC Vape Meet that was held earlier this month presented me with a unique opportunity to meet e-cig users and attempt to raise the profile of the fight we currently face.
The e-cig lobby has achieved so much. However, you must keep up the pressure.
Just as I was overwhelmed by the messages about e-cigs, you must lobby your local MEPs on the issue. Why not ask to meet them in person? If you own a store that is selling e-cigarette related products, why not offer to show the MEP round? It all adds weight to your argument.
Writing to the press is crucial. Sometimes, when it comes to the media, it can seem like you are fighting an uphill battle to get your particular issue highlighted, even when you know it’s a critical issue. You should not be disheartened. The slow “drip-drip” effect of giving the newspapers stories about e-cigarettes will eventually pay off. If you have your own e-cig stall, why not talk to your local newspaper featuring your fight to keep your business in the face of an EU e-cig ban? Remember, local newspapers want local news – so get an angle they’ll want to feature. Why not write to the letters page also? All column inches help highlight and create awareness of your fight. Just this week I had a large story printed in the Kidderminster Shuttle, they were keen to feature the story as they have a local e-cigarette shop and a charity who are linked with e-cigs too.
I’m continuing to spread the word about the potential ban. My team have produced and delivered tens and thousands of leaflets dedicated to the subject of e-cigs and stores from across the vast West Midlands region have chosen to display them in their stores.
If anybody else would like copies of the leaflet to distribute, please get in touch by emailingNikkiMep@gmail.com
I’ll continue to pressure the European Parliament, but I urge you to keep up the pressure on your MEPs.