June 3, 2015
“We will never be able to help smokers quit unless we can offer an appealing, satisfying and effective alternative.”
The third and final FDA public workshop, prior to release of the final deeming regulations, is now history. Two days of watching experts tell us how much we don’t know about vaping – it’s not harmless. How badly we need regulations – nicotine is addictive. How vulnerable our children are – marketing is insidiously focused on kids and right out of Big Tobacco’s playbook.
The FDA puts these things together. They invite very specific people. To tell very specific stories. In very specific ways. Fair and balanced does not come to mind.
But the vaping industry is not just the FDA. There are the business to business electronic cigarette conferences. New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, Texas, Canada, Germany, the U.K. and others – all attended by stakeholders in the e-cigarette industry. Useful for keeping business owners up-to-date on the latest goings on in government and public health. Useless when it comes to helping the public understand the real story behind vaping.
Vaping trade shows are increasingly popular. Vendors purchase space for their booths and showcase their latest mods, tanks, juices – anything and everything e-cig. Great place for showing off your latest and greatest and comparing it to the latest and greatest being offered by the competition. If you’re a vaper, the bigger shows are a panacea of choices for your vaping pleasure.
All of these vaping venues are important and encourage product innovation. They help business owners understand all aspects of the business. They link sellers and buyers. They contribute to the discussion of what’s hot and what’s not.
But workshops, business conferences and trade shows do not address the most important challenge facing the vaping industry. They do not contribute to the public’s perception of vaping. They do not invite the non-vaping public to understand the potential of electronic cigarettes to play a crucial, historic role in public health.
Taken as a whole, the electronic cigarette industry and the market that it serves, is not proactively working to inform the public. We are not reaching out. The “public” has virtually no understanding of the harm reduction potential that this novel and disruptive technology offers.
What do they know? They know that e-cigarettes are not harmless. They know that nicotine is addictive. They know that more research is needed. They know that Big Tobacco is marketing to kids. And why do they know all of this? Because the “other guys” are the only ones doing all the talking.
Contrary to outward appearances, their campaign is not focused on others in public health. Their campaign is not focused on federal and state regulators. Their campaign is not even focused on politicians. Their campaign is focused on the group that they know will ultimately decide the question – the public.
Many will respond that the vaping community does not have the numbers or the financial resources to combat the exaggerations, half-truths, and outright lies. But if we simply leave it at that, we are accepting defeat.
Winston Churchill said:
“It is of no use saying ‘We are doing the best we can.’ – success means doing what is necessary.”
We don’t need a plan. We need a campaign. We don’t need someone to do it for us. We need someone to show us how to do it for ourselves. We need leadership. We need a blueprint. Ideas and suggestions for how to go about reaching out to our local communities, across the country, for the purpose of sharing our message.
There are probably a number of organizations with the skillset to lead such a campaign but two obvious choices immediately come to mind – CASAA and SFATA. Two organizations that have repeatedly demonstrated their commitment and their expertise to lead the campaign.
The WHO has organized its annual “World No Tobacco Day” on May 31st of every year.
It’s time for a “World Tobacco Alternative Day”. It’s time for the vaping industry to take the debate to the public. It’s time for them to get to know us. And us to get to know them. Before it’s too late.
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Dave Coggin has a Master’s Degree in business and spent 35 years in corporate America. He is a co-founder and partner in DIYELS. He has spent the last five years actively researching and following the evolution of the e-cigarette industry. He is a strong proponent of e-cigarettes as the most promising option currently known for tobacco harm reduction. He may be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The opinions presented here are exclusively those of the author. Vaper’s Vortex is offered as a service to our customers and followers. Anyone considering e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes should seek qualified advice from a medical professional.