Vaping proponents have been forced to work together to defend their industry. This is a good thing, because there is a strong organizational effort on the other side of the issue. However, oftentimes the pro-vaping community is forced into a reactionary position, responding to individual criticisms wherever and whenever they arise. Vaping advocates would be wise to assess what they are up against, and develop a strategy that confronts the powerful anti-vaping interests head-on.
Opposition to vaping comes largely from powerful institutions, from the FDA to the American Cancer Society. These organizations along with scores of others react reflexively. The conventional smoking and the cancer epidemic is fresh in their minds. The struggles of opposing studies and litigation between the cigarette industry and government groups are still acutely felt.
The fact that the government is acknowledging the rise of vaping is welcome, at least by this author. I don’t know anyone that would want to smoke liquids from China and have no clue as to what is actually in them. Yet, welcome awareness of vaping has come with unwelcome alarm. What they are doing wrong, is jumping to conclusions. If an organization is tasked with setting a policy for a nation, it must be absolutely solid in the facts. A bureaucracy like the FDA must not be too eager to act just because they were caught with their pants down in previous decades.
Institutional bias against vaping can be found all throughout the levers of power in society. That includes the media, and many Democratic lawmakers. In fact, the FDA’s policies to date have raised the question of if it is still beholden to the Democratic Party, despite the ostensibly Republican administration. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the highest ranking Democrat in the country, has been vocal in his position against the rise of e-cigarettes. Other anti-vaping crusaders include Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durban (D-IL) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Brown recently said, “E-cigarettes are the new frontier in tobacco companies’ quest to get kids addicted while they are young.” If this remark doesn’t demonstrate insult and bias, I don’t know what does.
At the state level, heavily blue legislatures and governors’ mansions have also picked up on the anti-vaping drum beat. Just last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo passed one of the nation’s largest vaping bans, becoming the 11th state to prohibit vaping in indoor public places. The other states? California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah and Vermont. With the exception of North Dakota and Mormon Utah, that list may as well be of the bluest states in the Union.
On the local level, major cities (places where Democrats have total control) have been banning vaping for years. The least-friendly vape cities in the U.S. are Minneapolis, Boston and Chicago, followed by eight California cities. One of the most egregious abuse of one-party rule recently occurred in San Francisco, where a first-in-the-nation flavor ban practically shut down vape shops overnight. San Francisco is governed by eleven members of a board of supervisors. All officials are members of the Democratic Party.
Vaping advocates have a tendency to play metaphorical whack-a-mole, attacking anyone whenever they make a statement against e-cigarettes. This tactic is currently not working, as the advance of vape-restrictive policy is on the march. The vaping community needs to define the powerful institutions it is up against – which include the media, social media sites like Facebook, tobacco control “experts” who get their money from the Big Tobacco settlement and, of course, elected Democrats throughout the country. Only by being proactive, by recruiting new allies and fighting off enemies on all fronts, will vaping proponents successfully get this lifesaving technology out of the hands of the nanny state and into the hands of those that need it most.