As we explained in last week’s story about Ray Yeates, Nova Scotia health authorities will soon deny him the oxygen he needs to live—because he vapes. Yeates has emphysema from 45 years of smoking cigarettes.
In 2013, after nearly dying from pneumonia and then being diagnosed with emphysema, he was able to finally quit smoking by using e-cigarettes. A year later he formed the Tobacco Harm Reduction Association of Canada, a consumer organization dedicated to fighting for the rights of vapers and users of other low-risk nicotine products.
After supplying Yeates with oxygen in his home for three years, the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness (DHW) has notified him that his subsidized oxygen supply will be cut off soon because he vapes. The agency claims vaping creates a fire risk.
On top of that, the assisted living placement Yeates had been promised was denied at the last minute because he vapes. He had already sold the trailer he had been living in, and was forced to rent a hotel room, which he cannot afford.
The vaping community, led by THRA members and the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organizations (INNCO), has been up in arms about the injustice inflicted upon Yeates. There is talk of a lawsuit against the province on human rights grounds. But first—and most importantly—Yeates needs to have a reliable supply of the oxygen he requires to breathe.
THRA board member Jaye Blancher has started a GoFundMe effort to help Yeates. “The funds raised from this effort are going to provide Ray with a home oxygen system, portable oxygen unit and an affordable, sustainable place to call home,” writes Blancher.
The crowdfunding effort had passed $3,300 as of Wednesday morning, with more than 40 contributors. The goal is $10,000.
It is a difficult time to ask for charitable contributions, with so many people out of work, vaping businesses threatened by legislation and the coronavirus, and so many worthy causes competing for donors.
But Ray Yeates has fought hard for smokers to have the right to low-risk alternatives, and now, as Jaye Blancher says, “the product which successfully prolonged his life…has ironically become the smoking gun used to justify an action which, if carried out, will undoubtedly kill him.”
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