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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Maybe the Enemy isn't the FDA...

"We have met the enemy and it is us." - Pogo

I have been involved in vaping advocacy for some time.  Not as a "Greg Conley" or other famous vaping personage but as a grunt using what I know to try and advance an agenda of "less risk" (to quote the FDA) with regard to vaping and combustion smoking (mostly technology stuff).

In 2011 most of my family were smokers...  today there are none.

I am writing this column today because there is no leadership of the "pro vaping" forces.  No discernible over-arching strategy (financial, technological, political, etc.).

Yes, there are a number of individual people who are at the "top of the food chain" in the sense are very involved and active within their personal sphere.  But the real question that needs to be asked is "involved in what?" exactly.  

Everyone throwing rocks and sticks at the dragon while our homes are incinerated.

Vapers want vaping to be "left alone;" the vile FDA has created deeming regulations so that all of vaping can now look like this according to vice.motherboard:

A canonical "big tobacco" package.  Vetted, taxed, approved and FDA cleared (just like Vioxx).  Properly labeled (er, maybe or maybe not), and ready for Joe Six Pack to consume during the game.

The regs from the FDA have been a long time in coming and I have posted about them for several years.  They are no surprise.

What has been surprising to me, though, is the level of "resistance" to addressing the regulations as they were pending.

I recall fondly posts being thrown out of the CASAA Facebook page and the e-cigarette forum for trying to spur financial advocacy, e.g., a variety of contests (the first non-tobacco nicotine for which I offered a $10,000.00 USD cash price - since withdrawn).  The reason for this?  Its a "contest."  No, it was supposed to be like the fucking "X Prize" for space exploration!  Was that a "contest?"

I could go on but the bottom line is there seems to be very little interest in leading consumers to actually do things about the regulations other than complain and "call your congressman."

How's that working out?

I've been calling mine for two years - he doesn't care, as far as I can see, to touch this political "third rail." 

There is no leadership.

There is no plan other than to let others, e.g., Nicopure or Lost Arts, sue.  As to what this will bring I am not sure but at best it will take years - years of additional uncertainty about a lifesaving product.  What if they sue and win a bad victory for the rest of us - line their pockets and we get shit? 

When I started writing about this there wasn't nearly the positive vaping medical science there is now.  (I went on the words of my daughter and wife who had researched the various chemicals and technologies on the internet around 2011 when it first started in my house: a housewife and fantasy author spent a month digging and ended up five years ahead of the Royal College of Physicians.)

Today we know its safer (or in terms of the FDA deeming regs page #30 - "less risk") - than combustion tobacco.

But as vapers (I vape but never smoked, I've also vaped nicotine for a year but was unable to create a heroin-like addiction promised by the ANTZ) we are utter failures in terms of advancing our cause.  (Truth: I have the mutant gene that makes me not need nicotine; is it an addiction if its genetic?)

I think there are a several reasons for our leadership fail:

First, smokers (and vapers) are by and large cheap - hence all the "givaways" at trade shows, contests online, and so on.  So donating a $1.00 a month to save vaping is far too much to consider or ask. 

Consider there are now about 10,000 vape shops.  Imagine if each shop simply donated $10/week to a legal fund.

$10.00 a week per shop.

10,000 x $10 = $100,000 x 52 = $5,200,000 US dollars for lawyers, suing the FDA, and media time.

All shops spend more than that on soft drinks, energy drinks and junk food.

Only one problem - no one in charge - no place for the money to go.

(Hell, even the pot guy's have NORML...)

Sure we have CASAA - but they are only a "consumer advocacy" organization - they tell you to "call your legislator "(with some success) and what petitions to sign.

We have SFATA, VTA and a few others, but they are for "commercial" businesses - they pay lobbyists (I don't think these organizations will sue).

So here we sit - with nothing clutching holding our underwear at the side of the road.  

Next problem with defending ourselves is this.  Say you create a legal entity to collect this money and hire lawyers.  Now, let's go tell people about it in a CASAA or (an/the) e-cigarette forum...

[ Nasty buzzer sound ] - STOP!!!

You're advertising, i.e., looking for money.

You're promoting... You're EVIL...

We can't have this!  Go a way - your post is deleted!

So what do you do?  You're out the legal fees to set it up and no one can find out about it.

Yep - can't compete with the ads running or the vested interests of God knows who...

BTW - I tried this two years ago - long before  

I took my own money, time, etc. and went around trying to garner interest in getting out front of the deeming regs.  I didn't have enough dollars to close the full deal on my own.  I spent a whole trade show going around to drum up support.  

The result?

Zero interest... (as recently as February of this year there was still a lack of interest in SEVIA USA).

NOTE: Apparently since May 5th (Cinco de Mayo no less) there's been might be a change of attitude.

Another reason we fail to defend ourselves is that there is a great effort afoot to deprive vapers of their Constitutional rights conducted by non-other than vapers.  

Yes, we are our own worst enemy.

"Oh no - you'd don't have the right to vape anywhere its not wanted..."

I have to smell perfume, deodorant, cleaning spray, diacytel-filled cooking odors I don't want to smell but God-forbid not vape!

And such.  Trumpeted by those in charge of CASAA from my perspective at least.

So, er, why not just roll over for the FDA then?  How's the FDA different, say, than a business like Chili's (one of my favorite examples).

We fail because we have no media presence.  

On guy gets on some sub-optimal CNN report for the deeming regs.

Yet there are millions of vapers spending billions of dollars - hey, but we're less than a junkie in societies eyes...

I was thinking: Let's kick that $10/week up to $30/week (oops, maybe no free pizza one week) and get out on the internet and air waves and make some noise...  but there's no where to send the $30 each week.

There's no where to send the check.

And finally we fail on the technology aspect.  

Oh no - vapes banned from planes!

Er, there are standards for battery powered devices and aircraft THAT VIRTUALLY NO ONE IN VAPING PAYS ATTENTION TOO.

In point of fact battery explosions on aircraft are a very bad thing.

Doesn't anyone think we need to pay some bit of attention to this?  If we think things are bad now image if someone with a vape turns out to be the cause of a crash (or even in a car, bus or boat...)?

We need to attend to the actual OBJECTIVE dangers involved and not pretend we don't all know somebody who built a zero-ohm coil, left their mechanical on the car seat with the button pressed, or whatever...

Again - no leadership.

If we want recognition in the world of technical things we need some responsibility for ourselves.  I don't want some unregulated (no pun intended) sex toy in the baggage to take down a plane any more than a vape.

If you haven't guess by now I am somewhat bitter and sad.  It doesn't have to be this way.  I'm a tech guy and I live in the land of self driving cars, cars that will kill people, but we're going to get those whether they do or not, and we don't even need them...  But don't vape sonny... its dangerous!

I don't know how to change things but, as things are, I don't really see much real hope.

(Now the dragon has taken to the air, he's pissed, so he's circling around for a hot fly-over.  We're still standing in the field clutching our wooden spears and staring into the sky...)

How about this:  

It's time for well funded organization.  I don't care who runs it.  I don't care who owns it.  But it must be run for vapers by vapers and must act like we are in this to save our own collective asses lives.

I like many others have (and are) spending a lot of personal resources on this.  Eventually it will run out.

"We have met the enemy and it is us." - Pogo

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