Will Facebook vaping pages and vape group be deleted after 20 May when the TPD comes into force? The TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) as it is will be incredibly harmful to our vaping society. The TPD will greatly restrict both the products we can but and even the ways that we can learn about new products. Surely the government's directive cannot control everything, right? Exactly how far do the grasps of the TPD reach and will they even read social groups on sites like Facebook?
The short answer is that they should not be capable of shutting down Facebook groups. Not all vaping Facebook groups are even centred around the UK, and EU so, the ability of these countries to restrict the creation and existence of Facebook groups would not be allowed. If they were to restrict groups on social media sites like Facebook it would in many ways similar to making it illegal to chat about vaping with a group of friends which in many ways is what Facebook groups are, chatting with people that have a similar interest about things you enjoy. The very idea of restricting the freedom to chat with friends is ridiculous thought policing and belongs in an dystopian novel like those of Orwell. If the government had that authority to do such a thing then we would have concerns to even more of our freedoms then just vape. That being said while the government lacks the authority to control our social groups it's restrictions on advertising will still be in place. Even though they lack the authority to shut down chats they do have the authority to shut down payed advertisements so be aware of that group admins and moderators. The government does not have the authority to shut down Facebook groups as they do not own Facebook or have enough power over the internet and other social media to do so, but hey can ban payed advertisements.
That being said while they cannot restrict the freedoms to talk with your friends the restrictions on advertisements will still apply. One of the biggest ways that this will affect the Vaping community is that it will limit the ways that vapers can create and enjoy events. The TPD restricts advertising in sponsored events so large gatherings of vapers could end up being seen as advertisement. This is clearly a way for the government to feel as though vapers are isolated and alone when in actuality there are many vapers. The government seems to be using the TPD as a way to stop vaping and possibly get people to smoke the more heavily taxed cigarettes from the tobacco companies. Vapers must stand united against this threat and show that we will not just take this lying down and roll over. You can fight against the TPD by talking to your local representative or signing on to the Article 20 Legal Challenge which aims to challenge the restrictions placed on advertising and products.
Regulation of potentially harmful substances is one of the many jobs of the government. However censoring a people that wishes to speak about them is an extreme move on one’s freedom. For both fun and life it’s always good to keep track of the strings the government is pulling to take away your freedoms. While the internet is generally regarded as a haven for free speech it may only be a matter of time before world governments decide that they can no longer allow this to happen and take away your rights. Even now rules and guidelines on facebook are starting to censor political opinions. While this seems harmless to you history has shown that governments take small steps from people’s rights until they are gone. As such it is our job as a responsible community to ask questions about what the government is doing and whether it makes sense for the government to be doing so. If the government banned online communication a field that they do not even have jurisdiction over then that would give us a very legitimate fear for the future. Remember if you want to learn more about these changes to contact a local lawyer or another local representative to ask and voice your opinions on these matters. Remember stand up for your rights and stay safe.
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