The Final Version of the Letter to the Chairman of the Health Committee

The comments on yesterday’s post were very helpful. They enabled me to query my expectations. Sometimes we write ‘letters of complaint’ without any real understanding of what we want to achieve. In the past few years, I have had two occasions on which I (and herself) was badly treated. The first was an occasion when a representative of an airline got ‘the rules’ regarding the treatment of special baggage/equipment for disabled people wrong. She insisted on charging us an extra £10. She would not budge, and so we paid. When I complained, on our return, I carefully ensured to convey the idea that we should be recompensed for the spoiling of our enjoyment of the flight. The airline offered us a free flight matching the one which was spoiled. The second event was when I was attacked by a security person at the hotel which I (and herself) had been using for years. I was thrown to the ground for no apparent reason. (And, no, I was not drunk) Again, a carefully crafted letter produced a free week’s holiday because of the ‘disruption’ of the holiday in question.

Note that there is nothing wrong with what I did in those two cases. I merely did not just complain – I indicated a ‘satisfactory outcome’. “Some recompense” is a good phrase.


In the case of the Bolton Metro ban on ecigs, there is no ‘recompense’ to be achieved. None whatsoever. It is almost certain that my letter to the Chairman of the Health Committee will be ignored, even though he is the elected representative for my ward. Therefore, in my opinion, it is desirable to lay out one’s complaint as fully as is reasonable. The idea is to make the guy squirm. If he ignores your letter, write again and ask for a response. If he still ignores it, write to the local (in this case, conservative) office. Complain to the CEO of the authority and the chairman of the council. Demand a response.

For this reason, I have changed the letter only a little. I have shortened it and removed a few unimportant comments. But I have added another sentence about bullying. ‘Bullying in the workplace’ is frowned upon. Is not the banning of harmless ecigs, which are helping people to control their smoking, bullying?

So here is the final version of the letter. Please to comment if you see anything awry or able to be improved. I shall not be sending it until tomorrow:

Dear xxx,

You are the elected councillor for this ward. I believe that you are also the Chairperson of the Bolton Metro Health Committee (or whatever it is called).

I am writing to you in connection with the article in the Bolton News about the ban on the use of e-cigarettes in Bolton Metro enclosed places. I have no doubt that you are familiar with the ban and with the article.

Since you are Chairperson on the Health Committee, I assume that you were very much involved with bringing this ban about and in favour of it. I say that because there is no quote in the Bolton News from you or any person on that committee. Only a quote from ‘a spokesperson’ was printed.

If you were in favour of the ban on e-cigarettes, both for visitors and employees, I would be grateful if you would advise me of the legal and logical reasons for that ban.

As you know, the law of the land requires only that smoking of tobacco products be banned. There is no requirement for the use of personal inhaling devices to be banned. Numerous people use personal inhaling devices, mostly for the relief of asthma symptoms, but not exclusively. Is it true that this e-cigarette ban also applies to any other personal inhaling device? You see, the word ‘e-cigarette’ is simply a term which has no legal definition that I know of. It is a ‘made-up’ word which vaguely refers to personal inhaling devices which are used to inhale propylene glycol mixed with certain flavours which also might contain a small amount of the substance, nicotine, or might not.

The fact that no one from the health committee chose to add a quote to the article is odd. It is almost always the case that a member of the committee will say why an action has been taken, normally the Chairperson, which would be yourself. It is odd that the only quote was from a ‘spokesperson’, and not an identified individual.

Could it be that there was, in fact, no rational reason for the ban? That it was and is illogical?

The article said:

A council spokesman said they have a no-smoking policy across all council buildings, which extends to e-cigarettes.

He added: “We currently treat e-cigarettes the same as normal cigarettes and will continue to do so until there is proven and empirical evidence of the safety of these devices.”

Do you see the defect in that statement? There is no such thing, in law, as an e-cigarette. The device is ‘a personal inhaler’. It is not a tobacco product and does not use tobacco. Nothing is burned and there is no smoke. In effect, what you and your committee have done is create a completely new ban which has nothing to do with tobacco. You have banned personal inhalers. How do you justify that? May I point out once more that these personal inhalers need not contain nicotine – not that it matters, since nicotine is not a banned substance.

Nor, to my knowledge, is there any legal reason that people should not exhale water vapour. In fact, we both inhale and exhale water vapour with every breath we take. Further, whenever we exhale, we exhale the ‘flavours’ of any flavoured substance that we have recently consumed.

Further, the second half of the statement from your spokesperson (“…and will continue to do so until there is proven and empirical evidence of the safety of these devices.”) is just nonsense. No such absolute is possible for any device. What is already clear is that these personal inhaling devices are in great popular use, in their millions, and that no safety problems have been observed, apart from very rare and isolated events. In any case, one might ask how the Bolton Council could ever be competent to assess such evidence. Also, it is for the individual to decide upon the safety of the personal inhalers, and not the local authority, provided that no known danger exists for the general public. Any other interpretation is nonsense.

I shall only briefly touch upon the Bolton Hospital situation.

The quote below is similarly misguided (do these people think that the people of Bolton are imbeciles?):

A public health spokesman said: “While it is likely that e-cigarettes are considerably less damaging to health than smoking tobacco, they cannot currently be recommended as part of the clinical management for smoking cessation.”

A ‘straw man’ argument if ever there was one! What has “….part of the clinical management for smoking cessation” got to do with the free choice of adults to use personal inhalers?

There are many people and organisations who are interested in your response to these concerns, and I would be grateful for your comments. Briefly, the queries are:

  1. Are such bans legal?
  2. Has the full council approved the ban on personal inhalers?
  3. Are the justifications for the bans logical?
  4. In what way will employees of the authority be helped to cut down on tobacco use by this ban?
  5. How is the ban to be enforced?


One last thing. This ban on personal vaporisers seems to me to be rather spiteful and vindictive. Is there any reason that the implementation of the ban should not be considered to be ‘workplace bullying’?

I look forward to receiving your comments.

Yours sincerely.

Although I said that the above is ‘the final version’, I am still open to suggestions. I’ll probably look at it again tomorrow afternoon with a view to printing it out tomorrow evening and sending it on Wednesday.

The important thing is to put pressure on.

Where are the vapers?


UPDATE: 1.30 am 18th.

The value of comments! Mummybest has just drawn my attention to a valid argument, which might change the letter. Indirectly, she points out that the justification for the ban MUST PRECEDE the ban. In this case, it appears, from the statements which have been made, that the justification for the ban on ecigs, PROCEEDS from the ban. That is, the ban has no present justification. It needs thirty years of non-use of ecigs to prove that they are safe.

No wonder the Tobacco Control Industry is torn to shreds! It now requires unknown future events to justify its existence!  


14 Responses to “The Final Version of the Letter to the Chairman of the Health Committee”

  1. west2 Says:

    Just wondering why you chose to write “it is for the individual to decide upon the safety of the personal inhalers” when CE marking is evidence the devices conform to legislation on safety, health and environmental protection, within the European market?

    I may have missed the point as ‘safety’ can refer to the ‘device’ and/or the substance being inhaled, CE marking refers to the device.

    • junican Says:

      Yes, that is a bit tricky. I’m using the word ‘device’ in the same way that the article does – loosely. Strictly, when the spokesperson says ‘the device’, he should only mean the actual machine, but I would imagine that he is referring to the idea of ‘use of’ as much as the machine itself.

  2. lysistratatheoriginal Says:

    1) You randomly use both the terms Chairperson and Chairman – I don’t mind which, but it reads better if you stick to one or the other.
    2) To my amusement, my ecig refills carry the warning ‘May contain nuts.’ 🙂

    • junican Says:

      Thanks I’ve changed the word ‘chairman’ to ‘chairperson’.
      “May contain nuts” LoL. In that case, they should be banned.

  3. Rose Says:

    the justification for the ban MUST PRECEDE the ban

    Doctors seek e-cigarette ban in public places
    14th March 2014

    ‘We must not return to the days where nicotine-containing products are glamourised and normalised.’

    Smoking e-cigarettes banned by Bolton Council and Royal Bolton Hospital
    15th March 2014

  4. junican Says:

    “Nicotine containing products” – like potatoes and tomatoes?
    Another example of ‘moving the goalposts’. There were never an ‘days when nicotine containing products’ were glamourised. and normalised as such. It was tobacco products, if anything.
    Thanks for advising me about the result of the debate – I did a post about it on the 12th:

    Interestingly, the Minister was rather reluctant to commit himself:

    “Scottish public health minister Michael Matheson has already said he wanted to see action to limit advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes, and that the case for restricting e-cigarette sales to young people ‘made sense’.”

    • Rose Says:

      There were never any ‘days when nicotine containing products’ were glamourised

      Don’t forget that their “science” is out of Ark and they didn’t even know that there was nicotine in vegetables of the same family until it was finally pointed out to them in 1993, whereupon they promptly used dietary cotinine to prove that everyone was exposed to tobacco smoke.

      Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke Widespread – 1996

      “Nearly 9 out of 10 non-smoking Americans are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS, or second-hand smoke), as measured by the levels of cotinine in their blood, according to a study conducted by HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

      “The presence of cotinine, a chemical the body metabolizes from nicotine, is documentation that a person has been exposed to tobacco smoke.”

      You aren’t expecting historical truth are you?

      • junican Says:

        I expect ZERO truth, Rose. Nor, it seems, does Dr Siegel. He is in despair at the shenanigans of his former colleagues and the junk science.

  5. Lagoon Says:

    I wonder if the Ombudsman might consider this as they’ve clearly taken irrelevant information into account whilst making the decision and putting you to considerable inconvenience. It’d be nice to get the different branches of government scrapping it out over this.

    • junican Says:

      Very good point, Lagoon. There is only one problem, which is that I am not personally a vaper. Vapers should really be the ones to take these steps. Having said that, I had not thought of the ombudsman, even though I knew that it existed. The idea of using the ombudsman is certainly one to be considered. Perhaps a post of the subject might be worth-while.

  6. jredheadgirl Says:

    I anticipate reading the response to your letter Junican…:-)

    • Junican Says:

      If I get a response, I shall be very surprise. But I shall insist, as best I can.

      • jredheadgirl Says:

        Are these committee meetings open to the public? If so, maybe try showing up to one. It’s always good to put a human face onto an issue:-)

      • Junican Says:

        We do not know that they are happening! But also a new regime has come into force. Public health and an equal number of councillors form some sort of committee in the local authority. Only a revolution can displace the ‘professionals’.
        It is all really surreal. It is very hard to know what is going on. We shall see.

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