Fraser Cropper, CEO of Totally Wicked explains why TW is taking the EU to court.
The electronic cigarette, personal vapouriser, call them what you will, is in my humble opinion a product group that has the potential to be a global catalyser of positive change that is deserving of Nobel appreciation.
However, we may never see its true potential due to the campaign of misinformation and craven capitulative regulation that is attempting to cripple the nascent begins of the vaping phenomenon. The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), in its attempt to regulate these products under the auspice of existing tobacco product regulation, is one of the most ill-judged, morally questionable and divisive pieces of legislation that the EU has the arrogance to commit to law.
It is wrong on so many counts that one has to judge its framing on a level beyond sheer incompetence. It will have the potential to destroy what has been created in the past 6 years.
There is no reputable academic evidence that suggests these products are delivering a risk to health that requires such punitive regulation, nor evidence that the millions of users have been harmed by these products. Quite the contrary, all evidence, empirical and theoretical clearly concludes, that for smokers, the transfer to vaping products will transform their health outcome.
Here I risk the wrath of the Pharma clan ‘thought police’. That I, a mere ‘citizen’, never mind business leader, should have the temerity to associate the use of vaping products to the now irrefutable consequences of a self-determined improvement in ones probabilistic life outcome, is not mine to make. But, I will throw caution to the wind and state it nonetheless. However, I categorically do not represent a business that sells, markets or otherwise associates our products or customers to medicines or patients. Nor do I sell tobacco products.
Vaping products sit on neither of these ‘stools’. And I do not even mean with buttocks slightly askew on the seat, fundamentally not sat at all. (Forgive the poor metaphor).
I am very proud of the business that I have inherited the leadership of. I am proud of Totally Wicked, in large part because of what I believe our business stands for. Ignore the commercial considerations for a moment, as I have no intentions of marketing our business in this piece.
We are an independent business, owned by shareholders who share a simple common belief that our business will be a free spirit, answerable only to our customers. Our customers can buy their products from wherever they please, that they chose Totally Wicked makes our business responsible to them. I have promised that their patronage will never be assumed and taken for granted, specifically, they have invested in our business, it is a partnership, and I have a reciprocal responsibility to deliver my part of the partnership equation.
There is no more fundamental responsibility within this equation, than to ensure our customers can continue to find the products that they need and have the legitimate right to purchase and use. The TPD threatens this basic premise, and it does so from no moral or legal base. Every vaper should be eyes open to the agendas being played out in front of us. The young disaggregated industry base and atomized (no pun intended) user base and the resultant lack of collective power and influence is being exploited by the control driven bureaucrats and dizzy headed politicians; unwittingly (one hopes) to destroy this ‘vaping interloper’ that is threatening to destroy the previously unedifying tacit duopoly of the two big business incumbents that prey on the shackled 20% of smokers. So, (I know never start a sentence with ‘So’, but if politicians can start theirs with ‘Look’ than I can with ‘So’), if our business recognises this, and we are true to our word, we had no option other than to take the fight to the source of the TPD and demand that sense is brought to this matter with a court hearing in the European Courts of Justice.
Believe me or not, you will have to judge for yourself, but I will state the following knowing at least to myself the integrity behind the words. Our measure of success is to be allowed to operate within a sector that enables all ethical and professional vaping businesses, large and small, who are willing and able to comply with balanced and customer orientated responsibilities. This requires regulation that protects against the limited objective risk and suitably informs to enable considered choice, and allows trade that meets consumers’ needs.
Our sector needs tidying up; it does not need destroying.
I want Totally Wicked to be every day challenged by true competition that will test our ability to meet customers’ needs. I do not want to run a business that exploits regulation to the detriment of the consumer or legitimate smaller businesses. I have no issue with Tobacco companies selling electronic cigarettes, as long as they are not able to influence and constrain the sector to deliver a recovered monopoly. I back our business, that in a truly competitive environment, that, places customers first we can succeed and build a strong ethical and commercially viable business that can and will compete successfully with either the behemoth tobacco owned or small owner operated vaping stores or artisanal manufacturers.
I believe our case is a Vapers’ case not a simply a Totally Wicked case. Our success is everyone’s success, and I urge all those who care about our vaping future to get involved as necessary and specifically provide your name to the legal challenge site so you can be counted along with like-minded, concerned and threaten vapers.
You can sign up and support the legal challenge against the TPD here: http://article20legalchallenge.com/support-the-legal-challenge/