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March 28, 2015

Memo to public health grandees: vaping, vapers and you « The counterfactual

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5. The relationship between vapers and public health people. Your relationship with vapers is asymmetric – and you really do need to understand this. They are the ‘public’ in public health. They should be a matter of professional interest to you. In your profession, you need to understand them and why they do what they do, in order to make professional public health judgements. You need to do this with high standards of professional conduct and to approach them with humility and empathy. You might start by following the seven principles your own code of conduct. You probably have something to learn and you might even get to understand what inspires them. But they have no similar obligation to you. They have other jobs, other lives and no professional need to understand you or engage with you. If you think “there is a lot of mistrust & misunderstanding on both sides” that is your problem, not their problem. Their interest in you, if any, is that you might spoil what they are doing, that you are making provocative or unfounded remarks about them or what they do, or you are dismissing their experience as mere anecdote.

6. Vapers are not one thing. You should never talk about them as if they are an organisation, a movement or as if they somehow act collectively – they are highly heterogeneous and atomised. If one vaper is rude to you it doesn’t mean all vapers can be damned as rude. Even if there is an emerging vapers’ organisation, you can’t blame them for how vapers behave any more than you can blame the AA for bad driving, nor can you ask them to stop it any more than the AA can stop someone speeding on the M1. They are responsible for themselves but not for each other.

via Memo to public health grandees: vaping, vapers and you « The counterfactual.

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