The vaping industry is up against some pretty big guns. The tobacco and pharmaceutical industries are focused on their bottom lines and, like it or not, it’s hard to blame them when this is the way business has always been done. The tobacco industry makes money off of smokers and both the tobacco and pharmaceutical industry make money off smokers who want to quit. It’s a pretty reliable cash cow- especially when you consider how many times a single smoker will attempt to quit, return to smoking, and try again countless times.
It’s frustrating for many of us who finally quit smoking through vaping that these industries are taking a serious interest in us, and coming down hard. “We just want to make decisions around our own health,” some of us say. “We want to help others.” “We want people to be aware of their options.” We’re employing local people, contributing to the economy, paying our taxes… It doesn’t make sense that anyone would want to stop us from doing that- especially given what we know about the harmful effects of smoking. Except that it does make sense. It’s all about the money.
The frustration is so severe that some of us are at a loss of what to do. We raise our middle fingers are yell, “F*ck the FDA/Big Pharma/Big Tobacco.” We post pictures of ourselves doing it, or troll Twitter accounts and get our frustrations out that way. The frustration, the aggravation, even the anger are all understandable. But that kind of response is not only ineffective, it bolsters the other side.
The biggest threat to us as an industry is being legislated out of business. It’s already happening in some regions. And the people who pass legislation work in government. They work for YOU. Technically. But they also work for their party, which is supported through donations and pressured by big money lobbies. Yelling f*ck you at them not only isn’t going to get you anywhere, it’s going to provide them with the easy excuse to ignore you that they were looking for.
Presented with facts, reasonable arguments, reminders that you *vote*, it’s harder to dismiss us without admitting there’s something else at play here. But we have to present as a united front of determined, reasonable, tax paying citizens. And what we’re asking for, most of us, is reasonable.
We’re not looking for any wild frontier. I don’t want e-juice that some guy mixed up in his bathtub any more than the next person. I’m not waiting on street corners trying to lure children over with sweet smelling vapour. I don’t want my mod to be more likely to explode on me than my i-phone. I would like the vapour I inhale to be at least as safe as the beauty products my government still won’t monitor. I’m a reasonable person open to reasonable regulation. And that makes it a lot more difficult for my government representative to argue with me than if I rang up and called him a c*nt in the pocket of big pharma.
We’re up against some serious muscle, and time is running out. For some people, time has already run out- they’ve closed their businesses, unable to survive new legislation in their region. So we have to take the fight seriously. That means sizing up our opponents. The other side is a slick, well-oiled machine. We can’t afford to present as a ragtag gang of ranters. Or they’ll win.
We need to go in armed with facts, determination and level heads. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your background is, your education, your economic status: we all have a role to advocate.
It can be as simple as telling your doctor that you quit smoking through vaping (mine is thrilled), pointing someone to the Royal College of Physicians study, talking to a nonsmoking friend about your story and the hurdles we now face, correcting misinformation, even promoting reasonable regulation (which many of us already do, like not selling to underage customers- that was a move by our industry, before it was thought of by anyone else). But it should also include contacting your government representatives, whether by email or in person. Just to have your voice on record, and a reminder that you look to them as yourrepresentative.
We need to focus all of the passion I know we have and bring it: united, determined, and rational.
See the Canadian Vaping Association for news & updates