I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the first UKVIA Forum in London on Monday 23rd April. I was on the opening panel discussing regulation. Other panellists included Chris Snowdon from the IEA and Clive Bates, who amongst many other things, is a former director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). The session was expertly chaired by Mark Pawsey MP, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for E-Cigarettes.
It was great to see the retail sector, smaller vaping businesses, tobacco companies, regulators, media, MPs, campaign groups and think tanks all under one roof.
Of course I knew many of the people there, but I certainly didn't know the majority of them. People like me who work full-time in politics don't tend to learn many new things from these events, but the forum wasn't about people like me. It was there to promote the benefits of vaping and tobacco harm reduction, and to collectively come up with solutions to problems the vaping industry faces.
It is, of course, a huge networking event which I and many others certainly value.
So what did I get out of it? The answer to that is watch this space. We have been trying to get our 'Freedom to Vape' scheme off the ground. This is the scheme where people can go online and find vape friendly pubs, cafes, and restaurants wherever they are in the UK. Thanks to being at the forum, it looks like we are about to engage in a partnership with another organisation that will make this a reality.
My thanks and congratulations goes to the hardworking team at the UKVIA. I know how difficult it is to organise conferences. It takes hundreds of hours to put all the pieces of the jigsaw together. They did it all wonderfully well without a hitch. Well done!