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Advocates say one thing, anti-vape campaigners say another; one side gets angry and the others up their game as they strive to win the argument. The cycle goes on and nobody seems to be winning. What we need is common ground, a shared experience to bring us all together. So we arranged a sporting event.
Welcome to the Stealthvape Bowl for the very first international Vape Cup friendly. Taking the pitch today is the home side Advocates Athletic and Public Health Disunited, our visitors. The grass has been relayed with AstroTurf for today’s match as a special concession to this afternoon’s guests.
Athletic will be playing in the positive green strip, Disunited are wearing the all-white kit provided by Big Pharma, their sponsors. Although they look clean before kick off it will be interesting to note if the white shirts and shorts look distinctly grubby come full time.
As a unique twist on the old ‘jumpers for goalposts’, each team constructed their own goals prior to kick off - using copies of their respective research reports. I’m looking over now at Athletic’s goal; a solid edifice compromising of the Royal College of Physicians’ study and bound copies of the Public Health England report. I would like to say the same about Disunited’s too, but the piles of CDC reviews and pharma-funded surveys appear to be falling apart with closer inspection.
The ref has blown for kick-off but Stanton Glantz is refusing to touch the football. It looks like he’s complaining that the shape is the same as balls used by people who smoke. Advocates’ captain, Konstantinos Farsalinos, has magnanimously agreed to let the opposition use their ball – which is fetched by their professional Australian right whinger Simon Chapman. Chapman brings a wealth of expertise to his side as he’s always playing games on Twitter.
So we’re finally off. But what’s this? Linda McAvan has picked up the ball and is running to Disunited’s bench. It looks like she’s planning on sitting there and instructing her side to ignore the opposition. And the referee. And the crowd. This is ridiculous; surely she knows she can’t simply make up her own rules?
This certainly isn’t making a great spectacle to watch. Peter Hajek and Linda Bauld have managed to wrestle the ball from McAvan’s hands. Up runs Jean Etter to take the free kick – fans of the game will know he goes by the nickname ‘The Professor’, because, well, he’s a professor. As are most of Athletic’s players.
The ball lands at Clive Bates’ feet, a delightful pass, and he ghosts past Martin McKee. It’s like McKee, Disunited’s left whinger, has no understanding of the game. It’s clear that McKee can only be here for the half-time snacks.
Bates sends the ball forward. It’s West to Stimson. Stimson through to Sweanor. Sweanor is clear in on goal…oh, but that’s a horrible challenge from Mark Drakeford and a clear penalty. Michael Siegel steps up and slots the ball home like he always does. Disunited will be unhappy but they are used to being called out for playing dirty.
The match finishes in a clear victory for the vape advocates although the margin is uncertain as Disunited’s manager, Dr Margaret Chan, went on to score an uncountable number of own-goals during the post-match press conference.
And for the losing team of anti-vape campaigners: cheer up, it’s only a game. Shame that access to vape technology is more of a life and death thing.