Going it alone.
I previously explained that I only became involved in the politics of vaping once the growing anti-vape sentiment started to affect me personally. Prior to the growing workplace regulations, annoyingly dramatic media reports, and the financial impact of vaping inexplicably being considered tobacco by health insurers, I was just a blissfully ignorant former smoker who had discovered vaping. Perhaps like many of you.
I’ve also recounted how my first reaction was to try and affect change by getting involved in the democratic process; attending city, county, and state forums, meeting with politicians, writing letters and emails, making phone calls – all in an idealistic effort to bring reason to the debate.
Based on the fact that my rights to vape as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes kept deteriorating at an undeterred pace – regardless of everyone’s efforts to operate within the system – I came to understand that we were making about as much progress as a one-armed paper hanger in a stiff breeze.
It was then that I realized that, as Benjamin Franklin said, we must all hang together, or assuredly we will all hang separately.
Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers: this is for you.
Although there has been some great progress in consolidating the advocacy efforts of vape industry businesses under the banners of organizations like SFATA, AVA, and AEMSA – there are still far too many businesses that are either trying to advocate in a vacuum, or simply not giving a shit.
That first group – the loners – are either delusional or are attempting to make some kind of name for themselves. I hear these people speaking fondly of NJOY’s victory over the FDA a few years back and perhaps imagining their company as the new savior of the vaping industry. On second thought, I guess they are delusional also. Although on a certain level I can understand people being pissed off and taking the old if it’s gonna be, it’s up to me attitude…but the danger of trying to pursue your own individual legal challenge against the FDA is this: you have a very real chance of fucking it up for all future legal challenges when you fail. If you make a misstep and precedence is set, it will change the course of this fight for everyone.
Loners should read this very carefully: You have fantastic odds of becoming that asshole who ruined vaping for everyone. There will be no parades for you, you won’t be carried out of the stadium on the shoulders of a cheering crowd, and you won’t ever be on the cover of Forbes.
This is especially true of those small businesses paying a local customer/attorney in free liquid to take on the U.S. government for them. Attorneys with large egos and fantasies of fame among the suited masses at their local lawyer bars, but precious little ability to actually navigate what is surely to be an extremely difficult, lengthy, and intellectually challenging contest.
Only in Hollywood does the polyester-clad, messy-desked, down-on-his-luck, alcoholic-attorney-with-a-heart-of-gold actually win. Unfortunately for all of us, this isn’t the movies. This is real, and it’s truly life or death.
I don’t want Woody Allen, I want the fucking Terminator.
As for that other group of businesses – the ones that don’t give a shit; staying isolated in their garage labs or vape-filled hangouts trying to make money for as long as they can – I won’t even address you. You won’t be in the industry much longer anyway, so it doesn’t matter.
Everyone else? You need to join the Right To Be Smoke-Free Coalition (R2BSmokefree.org). Do it now. I’ll wait.
And when you are done, commit a percentage of your sales to the coalition’s legal fees. 10% of what you are now making is a small price to pay to keep your future revenues from being fucking nothing.
Consumers: this is for you.
There is a significant chance that you will not be able to vape much longer. I know you think that you will make your own liquids, fix your own antiquated vaporizers, or simply visit a vape speakeasy by walking through a hidden bookcase-door down at some local restaurant; but that’s not the reality.
If the FDA gets its way, and the cascade of anti-vaping laws, regulations, and enforcement really gets rolling – it will become far too difficult to manage your nicotine by vaping. You are going to either have to quit outright, or start smoking cigarettes again.
Anyone who tells you that the government isn’t smart (or corrupt) enough to systematically close all of the Do It Yourself vaping loopholes once they succeed in making vaping illegal, took far too many acid hits in high school.
If you are not a member of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA.org) you need to drop everything, join, and do all that they ask you to do.
As someone who understands the benefits of vaping, and who wants to keep it available for yourself and every other cigarette smoker wishing to quit killing themselves and their families – you must get involved and you must participate.
Everyone: this is for you.
You need to clearly understand why there is so much opposition to vaping as an alternative to cigarette smoking. With cigarette-related deaths and associated health challenges affecting so many individuals and families worldwide, nicotine vaping technology is quite possibly one of the most important public health innovations in global history.
There is a new documentary called A Billion Lives that has not yet hit theaters. It beautifully chronicles the lies, corruption, and downright evil intent that fuels the anti-vaping movement in government, business, and media.
I have personally seen this documentary and it moved me beyond words. I came away from it filled with anger; filled with sadness; filled with exponentially more motivation to fight this unprecedented attack on humanity – an attack launched solely for the financial benefit of big businesses, non-profit health groups, and corrupt, unethical politicians.
As the screen faded to black, I found myself fighting back so much grief at what our world has become; at how little value your life holds to those in power. A Billion Lives is one of those rare documentaries that will change you. It’s obviously framed by the vaping debate, but it is ultimately so much more than that.
As an independent film company with no dog in the vaping fight, I understand that Attention Era Media made A Billion Lives to tell a compelling story and to highlight a grave injustice – but not to fight our vaping battle for us. They should (and will) profit from their talent and divine timing – and no one should expect them to give away their blood, sweat, and tears for free. You wouldn’t.
This film will end up with a global distribution and it will be available from online streaming services – but it may be a year from now; too late for us to take advantage of it as a powerful public-swaying weapon in our current situation. The best thing that we can do as an industry is to help fund premieres in our major cities, to talk about it daily, to post about it constantly, and to get as many non-vapers as possible into theaters to see it. Sponsor the events, rent the theaters, spend the marketing dollars (that you can’t currently spend anyway because you are a tobacco business) on promoting this film.
I’ve already said that it will change the general public’s stance on vaping from opposition to positive indifference. And when you combine that with the progress that will be made by the Right To Be Smoke-Free Coalition on the legal front, then we will have a fighting chance.
There. Now you can no longer say that there’s no strategy for you to get behind; that the industry focus is too scattered. Thanks to AEMSA, CASAA, AVA, SFATA, Not Blowing Smoke, and Attention Era Media – you have big fucking neon arrows pointing a way through the darkness.
What you do now is up to you.