Vaping Advocates Foster Real Change Vaping Advocates Foster Real Change

The Vapor Technology Association is just one of many organizations working to legitimize the harm reduction value of e-cigarettes

Over the course of the last decade, vaping has grown to be a predominant smoking cessation tool, offering smokers the chance to move on from smoking traditional cigarettes. However, state and federal regulations could prohibit people from getting the chance to use this tool that has proven effective for so many people. For a while, there was no need for independent organizations to advocate for vaping rights, but as soon as the industry grew, so did the detractors.

Many legislators and health agencies have condemned vaping over the last five years thanks to little more than a perceived association with smoking. However, there has been a strong response from the vaping community pushing back against claims that vaping leads teens to pick up smoking. One of the organizations who has been doing significant work for the vaping community over the last several years is the Vapor Technology Association or VTA.

The VTA

About two and a half years ago, in January 2016, the Vapor Technology Association (VTA) was formed. The trade organization is composed of thousands of members from all parts of the vaping industry, from manufacturers to store owners. Their goal is to be the voice of the vaping industry so that vaping rights can be taken into account in policies and regulations.

“It’s a privilege,” says Tony Abboud, executive director, “for me to be working in this space because real entrepreneurs and real innovators are trying to help people, and you actually see then from the consumer side that incredible reaction, which is powerful,” The formation of a trade organization based around the new, and still growing vaping industry is a fantastic step in the right direction for the community at large.

Talk of Regulations

It was the VTA who met with the Food and Drug Administration in January 2018, letting the FDA know the truth behind claims that flavored e-liquids were luring teens to vape. Abboud says “We demonstrated to them, using the government’s own numbers, that vaping (among teens) has gone down, “If you look at the press releases… they talk about this supposedly skyrocketing increase in youth using vapor products, and they always cite the period from 2011 to 2015, and it begs the question of why they ignore the CDC’s 2016 data and the past statistics which show that it turned downwards, finally.”

Abboud continued to say these numbers are not being spoken about because they do not fit their narrative. The VTA has made it clear that they are willing to work with the FDA on how to best market and display products to make it clear they are not marketed towards teens. Packaging and labels marked “Not for Youth Use,” and setting guidelines for shop owners to prevent teens loitering were all discussed.

The VTA hopes that by pushing state and federal lawmakers to view vaping as a separate entity to smoking they can prevent restrictions that would effectively prevent people whose lives could be improved from picking up their products. Abboud likens the proposed regulations, banning flavors other than tobacco, to making an alcoholic drink a coke at a bar. Restricting these products could have dire consequences for public health. Abboud emphasizes  “This has the potential to be the most significant public health benefit that we’ve seen in a generation.”

Implications

Actively operating in 22 states across the US the VTA has the potential for giant impact on the way lawmakers at all levels treat vaping. For decades big tobacco has had their horse in the race with lobbyists practicing their influence over government groups. Now it is time for the vaping industry to be heard. It is immensely important that vaping be understood as a separate entity from smoking. With the June 19th deadline on the FDA’s probe, it is essential that the vaping community and industry be heard and respected.

Once lawmakers fully understand the differences and benefits of vaping over smoking then laws will start to change. Once that happens, the public at large may be more apt to accept vaping in their day to day lives and respect the healthier choice being made. In England, the government and their health initiatives support vaping and promote it as a powerful cessation tool. With groups like the VTA speaking up and fellow nations like the UK as an example, hopefully, the FDA will follow suit and recognize the significant harm reduction and smoking cessation value of e-cigarettes.

Do you think that trade associations help improve the industry they represent? Why is vaping so hard for the public to accept as not simply an alternative form of tobacco? Do you think that vaping is worthy of being called the most significant public health benefit in a generation? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.

David

Katie Bercham - CocktailNerd Editor

Katie actually had a negative first experience of electronic cigarettes, picking up a cheap and horrible model from my local mall. Thanks to a chance meeting with co-editor David, she hasn’t had a tobacco cigarette in over 5 years. She brings a strong female voice to the e-cig community.