Fifteen cities in five weeks – what a start for the WVA Back Vaping. Beat Smoking bus tour.
I spoke with many vapers, visited vape shops in many cities and was able to meet decision-makers to explain to them how to save 19 million lives. I have to say that it was great to meet people and finally have some in-person activism!
The #BackVapingBeatSmoking vape bus travelled across Europe to tell policymakers how they could save 19 million lives in Europe and on the way gathered stories and experiences of people who have benefitted from switching to vaping and quitting smoking for good. There is more to come, but since we now have a short break I thought it might be worth looking at some highlights from a very exciting tour.
Sitting on the plane preparing to touch down in Barcelona for our first stop, I was excited, but also a bit nervous. After months of preparation and planning, the day was finally here. But even though we had put so much work into it, you never know what will happen. Will vapers be interested in the bus? Will everything work out as planned? Will the politicians actually show up?
But as soon as we opened the doors to vapers the anxiety was gone and I was thrilled to be able to finally chat face-to-face with like-minded people. It was pure joy to listen to fellow vapers and hear their vaping stories. So many accounts of how people quit after decades of smoking and how vaping improved their lives. It is just astonishing. I am convinced any politician with any doubts would immediately change their opinion if they would take the time to listen to these stories.
Here is a behind the scenes look at how vapers were able to tell their stories and have some fun.
When in Spain my favourite thing is to get tapas! What an amazing tradition. Getting small plates of food while drinking. This is my style of dining.
Next came Milan, with an interesting challenge. Just weeks before we arrived, the mayor announced plans to ban outdoor vaping. So inevitably, our first order of business was to deliver a letter to him explaining why that idea would actually turn vapers back to smoking.
I had the great privilege of speaking with a number of Italian politicians about why the Back Vaping Beat Smoking campaign is so important.
We also achieved a lot of media coverage.
When in Italy: pasta obviously!
Munich and Berlin
It was great being back in Germany and speaking my native language (I am Austrian if you did not know). It was inspiring and energising to hear from vapers in Munich and Berlin.
One story especially touched me: a woman in Berlin came up to me and just said thank you. After she noticed my confusion she explained to me that it is the first time she has seen somebody standing up for vaping. Her mother tried to quit smoking for 40 years and failed every time till she got a vape in her hand. Within a couple of weeks she was smoke free and her smoking related health issues improved dramatically. Besides her mother, she, her husband, and her son also quit. Isn’t that amazing? Four people were saved by vaping right there.
Numbers and statistics are important, but we should never forget that behind every number there is a human being. This story, but also the tour in general, showed that we as vapers are not just anecdotes, we are proof that vaping works!
In Munich my choice of food was brezel and beer. In Berlin the must have is the Currywurst! But my personal highlight was to see many of my former colleagues in the German parliament and to make sure that they keep backing vaping!
Vaping is coming home! I explored London with Boris, my new best friend! We chatted about the UK standing up to anti-vaping ideology and promoting the Back Vaping. Beat Smoking message at the upcoming COP9 event.
Boris and I are definitely on the same page on that issue!
Even the leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who walked by our bus assured me that as a free country, the UK will continue to back vaping.
Apologies to my UK friends, but the highlight for me was not the food. In the UK the best things for sure are full Premier League stadiums! I was lucky enough to be able to attend Manchester United matches and saw at least one dramatic win. Viva Ronaldo!
Obviously, there are many more stories to tell but are my highlights so far. I am so happy that we were able to help hundreds of vapers to tell their own stories, in their own voices, to their public representatives. I am convinced that this will make a difference as it will become harder for politicians to ignore us.
Now we will have a couple of weeks break and then continue to many more European cities. If you want to join the campaign, visit the bus or tell us your vaping story please sign up here.