Disabled Vet Becomes Face Of Campaign To End War On E-Cigarettes

Guy Bentley | Research Associate, Reason Foundation

Grandfather and decorated Army veteran Sgt. Brian Keith Roberts has become an unlikely symbol of vapers desperate struggle to prevent government agencies from imposing crippling regulations on the e-cigarette industry.

Roberts, a veteran of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars was severely injured by an improvised explosive device while traveling across Helmand province in 2010. After three failed surgeries, his leg was amputated below the knee.

Roberts joins dozens of vapers prominently featured in the campaign No More Casualties (NMC). In an NMC spot, Roberts, vaping in his wheelchair, pleads with public health campaigners and tobacco control lobbyists not to make vapers victims of their war on smoking by attacking e-cigarette and vapor products.

Spearheaded by California vaping advocacy group “Not Blowing Smoke,” the NMC campaign is fighting a wave of attacks on e-cigarettes from both government agencies and public health activists to discredit and restrict the availability of e-cigarette.

“It’s time for vapers, public health professionals, and taxpayers to stand up and say no more,” the NMC demands. “No more getting in the way of the nine million Americans (many of whom have given up smoking completely) who now use these products, no more ignoring the fact that FDA-approved nicotine replacements fail more than 90 percent of the time, no more worrying about revenue at the expense of the health Americans, no more tailor-made science.”

NMC accuses prominent non-profits, such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, of demonizing e-cigarettes in the name of protecting children. NMC argue the problem with these public campaigns against e-cigarettes is that they will harm public health by discouraging smokers from switching to vaping and making it easier for vapers to turn back to tobacco.

NMC argue the problem with these organizations relentless campaigns against e-cigarettes are the unintended consequences of discouraging smokers from switching to vaping and making it easier for vapers to turn back to tobacco.

“Opponents of vaping often cite American kids as their motivation, yet wholeheartedly endorse public policy that ensures that parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and even grandparents continue to smoke,” says NMC. 

The campaign has partnered with Vape a Vet — a 501(c)(3) that supports military personnel in their attempts to switch from smoking to vaping for free. NMC point out that anti-vaping campaigns are not restricted to the FDA or anti-tobacco crusaders but have even penetrated the military establishment.

“Despite efforts by the Department of Defense, military smoking rates have been largely stagnant for a decade, yet the military spent your tax dollars to sponsor a contest in which youth entrants were encouraged to make a video expressing ‘skepticism towards e-cigarettes.'”

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