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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Vaping: Why So Few Activists?

I have been doing a lot of my own research on vaping in general.

One thing I have noticed is that, in general, about one to one and a half percent of the "vaping public" seems to have any concern about the FDA and regulations.  (I have a means to track responses to various postings in various places and comparing posts about things like new box mods and atomizers to posts about serious stuff (at least to me) like I write about here.  Of course, this is not a scientific pole but I think its valid enough to make my point here and for you to be concerned...)

Now by "concern" I don't mean average "Joe Vaper" who grunts out "fuck the FDA" when asked about his vaping rights.

Instead I mean someone who actually has reviewed the general state of the deeming regs, knows about local and state political vaping-related activity, knows something about nicotine outside tobacco, someone who's up for debating ANTZ types, etc.  And I don't mean active members of CASAA or SFATA, etc. because they typically are assuming those organizations are doing the activism for them and they are just foot soldiers being told what to do. 

I am talking about leaders.

Now personally from reviewing things like "Occupy Wall Street" and unionization activity (one in five employees is a union activist according to the link) the number of vaping activist in the general vaping population seems to me to be really low.

In fact, not just really low, but actually ridiculously low, like (for those that don't know their percents) one in one hundred.

This seems to me on the face of absolutely absurd.


Personally I see dramatic declines in smoking related to vaping - I read about dramatic health benefits compared to cigarettes (see other stuff on this blog and at "Vaping Truth" on  Personally none of my immediate family smokes any more (perhaps six people - and not just because my wife owns a vape shop - she personally helped them all quit smoking).

Doesn't anyone else notice these effects?

I have been trying to get my head around why this activism rate is so low.

For me, I try to be an activist because I perceive direct health benefits for my immediate family. 

I am also a financial activist for vaping.  Vaping is also far cheaper. (If you can save $30 a week vaping over smoking that's $1,500 a year.  Compare this to your last income tax refund check...)

That alone should make at least one in five vapers an activist.

Consider, let's say, it costs $15,000.00 USD to start a business like a vape shop (just trying to pick a "middle of the road" number here - you can do it for less or more - but that's not the point).

If you had a significant other that smoked would you spend that amount of money if you knew you could send them to something like a "rehab" and they would just quit permanently?  (At $7 a pack you'd get your health and money back on cigarette savings alone in six years - never mind gas and wasted trips to the store at 10PM.) This gets to be more of an issue as people age - when your twenty you could probably care less - forty you probably care much more - and fifty five and up you probably care a lot.)

On the sexist side women seem to care more than men in terms of "family activism" in my experience.  Typically a woman (say a "head of household") will be interested in getting all of her family (husband, sister, mother, kids) to vape rather than smoke: to save money and improve health.  I am quite certain mothers will buy vaping supplies for children that are under age (gasps and shrieking form the audience) so they will never again smoke a cigarette.

Many agree that vaping is the first thing that has the potential to put (and in fact is putting) a big dent in the smoking numbers world wide.

But there are relatively few activists.

And many (but not all) of those that I do see seem fearful - fearful in particular of the costs of litigation (whether it be for a summary $50 violation of "vaping ban" or for a Constitutional law case).  Of angering "the powers that be."  Of being on the news.  Of rocking the boat.

Personally I see vaping as perhaps having the biggest impact on human health since, I don't know, the invention of vaccines.

Yet no where near the level of activism you see for something like "global warming" or "occupy wall street" or ""

The question is why?

I two main reasons for this (and I am willing to be argued with even on the basic premise that there aren't enough activists).

1) Smokers have been abused and bullied. From "Bullying Definition - Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose." Note that apparently bully is only defined by the government for "school age children" - but we all know that bullying is really "... the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power."

Note that in all definitions of "bullying" there's no restriction on the reason.
The LA Times thinks that the consequences of bullying last into middle age and the result I think is that smokers today tend to shy away from others because they perceive their "smoking" as a significant social flaw that makes them outcasts.

For the last several decades smokers have been bullied simply because they smoke.  Told they are killing themselves and others.  Told they are abusing their children and pets and everyone around them with their "second hand smoke."  Told they are a burden on society because "their habit" kills 440,000 people a year and maims untold millions with COPD, emphysema, etc.

(I won't write about the benefits of nicotine here...)

Don't run into any proud smokers any more, do you?

So smokers, in my opinion and because of this, are afraid in general to step forward.

2) Vaping organizations in general, in my opinion, do create an environment that fosters activism beyond or outside the scope of the organization's purpose.  For example, consumer organizations focus only on consumers, industry groups only on their functions.

This shunts people with ideas or interest away from the true issues and into one or more silo's or slots that tend to "shut down" their enthusiasm.

People are also "afraid" to "rock the boat" lest they be branded as outliers "harming the cause."

This means fewer activists.


For God's sake you see police hauling adults away from New York city parks because corporations make too much money and because some people make more money than others.

Wait a minute - what about people dying because of smoking?

Oh wait, vaping might be unsafe... (fill in any of ten thousand nonsensical ANTZ formaldehyde articles here.)

So your second floor apartment is on fire and you have a decent statistical chance of death (a one in three chance of dying early from smoking from this for example).  So let's say the same applies to the burning apartment - a one in three chance of death.

There's a rickety-looking ladder outside that might break and you might fall and get hurt but you might make it.

What do you do?

Stay in the apartment because the ladder is rickety and wait ten more minutes for the fire department to bring a better one?

Or do you go for it?

The bullies say "you're no good - might as well wait there because you're nothing but an evil "smoker."

I say we need to encourage more people to try the rickety ladder before the whole vaping thing, no pun intended, goes up in smoke.

1 comment:

  1. "For example, consumer organizations focus only on consumers, industry groups only on their functions". I Disagree with point 2. I am a Member of SFATA at the Consumer Level Membership. SFATA and The Vaping Militia have helped Vapers set up Advocacy groups in many States. CASAA a Consumer Orientated THR Group has Vender Display Counter Stands Available. They might not agree on everything but IMO the support each other consistently. I whole heartily agree the % of Vapers involved in Vapers Rights Advocacy is Dismal! Finally,not to Brag but I have followed this suggestion by CASAA multiple times. " If you are a CASAA member and would like to contribute to CASAA's efforts, consider skipping a direct donation and instead buying one or more kits to give to stores in your area. "