The 21st century has been coined “The Age of Information.” That being said; we should seize this opportunity to absorb every bit of information the FDA has released pertaining to regulations targeting the vaping industry. We should start by finding out the core of who the folks are demanding said regulation and those being paid to put forth the laws to make it possible.
Many lobbyist group are involved in the efforts and it is very important to understand who these people are because many hide behind interest group and acronyms that confuse their real intentions. Knowing where the money flows is of utmost importance when deciding the intentions of the decision makers who seek to destroy a multi-billion dollar industry. The average American has a hard time determining why a struggling economy would dismantle any profitable industry. Under the guise of “Saving our Children” and “For our Health” they have demonized these products that they’ve made zero effort to learn about.The FDA and paid politicians stand at their podiums and yell to the masses trigger words to put fear in the minds of Americans that are meant to sway public opinion.
Consider this: R.J. Reynold’s the second largest tobacco company in the US, donated $50k to house speak John Boehner around the same time the FDA proposed deemed regulations on electronic cigarettes. In 2013, Altria (Phillip Morris), R.J. Reynolds, Lolliard,and others in the tobacco industry spent $26 million to lobby our legislative system.
Getting lawmakers on their side is easy because powerful tobacco lobbyists have unlimited amounts of money to spend. They have little resistance convincing the public that their products are safer because they’ve been around longer and we already accept that they are killing us. As backwards as that statement sounds it is the honest truth about the cohesion established between lawmakers and tobacco lobbyists over several decades. It’s another symptom of the “status quo” workings in Washington. For the American people, we are delivered packages of propaganda through organizations who hide their true intentions.
Smoke-Free California is an organization with aggressive propaganda campaigns against vaping. Their website uses extreme language to drum up the fear and demonize vaping as: just as evil as “Big Tobacco.” This is the statement greeting visitors to their website:
This bold statement demonstrates the ability to disguise a group as an advocate for health reasons when the real intention involves money. Smoke-Free California receives a 25 cent tax on each tobacco product sold. Vaping products are not profitable to SFCA, therefore it is in their interest to eliminate their sales and get back to the riches they enjoyed prior to e-cigs ruining their successful but deceitful campaign. It is also important to note that of that tax they receive, only 20% (or 5 cents of every dollar) is used to promote the agenda.
With a name and mission statement telling the public of their good intentions it seems ironic to have this same group deny a product that has effectively decreased smoking in their state. While it is common practice to never admit the truth; the mission to destroy the vaping industry to spare their own profit is obvious.
Also noteworthy is the fact that tobacco companies themselves are the main source of funding for such campaigns. In 1998, a $206 Billion dollar settlement was reached with big tobacco companies that was used to fund the anti-smoking advocacy groups. However, part of the settlement protected the individual company from scrutiny. The groups were not allowed to go after the company but only the act of smoking. Again, altruistic in nature but the effectiveness of said campaigns has been proven to be ineffective by multiple studies on the matter.
While this only scratches the surface of the problems we face in the vaping industry it points to a direction we can take without using their methods. These tactics include lying, disinformation campaigns, and paying off politicians. Our industry is small compared to the giants of the tobacco industry and our approach must not reflect defending ourselves against the looming threat of being shut down through government regulation. An effective and affordable solution would be to expose the tactics and involvement of tobacco companies in the legislation process. The message of “I vape, I vote” is worth delivering to your elected politicians. They tend to forget that they are representing not only people, but companies whose well-being rely on their decisions.
After all, these tactics aren’t new. In fact, the Tobacco Industry Research Committee released “A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers” January 4, 1954 to pacify the increasing fears that cigarettes may be bad for the public's’ health:
[…]That statistics purporting to link cigarette smoking with the disease could apply with equal force to any one of many other aspects of modern life. Indeed the validity of the statistics themselves is questioned by numerous scientists.
We accept an interest in people's health as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration in our business
We believe the products we make are not injurious to health.
We always have and always will cooperate closely with those whose task it is to safeguard the public health.
For more than 300 years tobacco has given solace, relaxation, and enjoyment to mankind. At one time or another during those years critics have held it responsible for practically every disease of the human body. One by one these charges have been abandoned for lack of evidence.
Regardless of the record of the past, the fact that cigarette smoking today should even be suspected as a cause of a serious disease is a matter of deep concern to us. […]
The FDA released this statement 50 years later highlighting the fact that big tobacco is also a big fat liar and the new demon is the e-cigarette agenda:
“With the release of the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, we now know that the annual death toll from tobacco-attributable disease has risen to more than 480,000. At this rate, there will be more than 17 million deaths from tobacco use between now and mid-century. Additionally, youth use of certain unregulated tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes and cigars, is on the rise. FDA oversight of tobacco products can provide important information about proposed deemed tobacco products and help limit youth exposure to these products. The proposed rule would also enable FDA to explore whether different products pose different levels of risk, and would help the Agency develop policies to improve public health.”
While these statements are very different; the message is the same. We care about you, we are doing this for your health, we are doing this for YOU! Keeping the public safe seems altruistic in nature, at it’s core we discover a very ugly truth. Always heed with caution when the government volunteers itself to be the science and the regulator. Sure big tobacco has been burdened with its share of bureaucracy but there is no problem that large sums of money cannot remedy. Tobacco companies have been funneling money to our states, our representatives, as well as our senators. Money is not given without expectation. When our representative are advocating to kill our businesses with the stroke of a pen it’s clear they’re not representing us but rather; the billion dollar tobacco industry who wants us all out of their way. It would take an entire series of blogs like this one to fully convey the magnitude of the lobbying efforts by these tobacco corporations but we do recommend looking into this mater yourself for a more in-depth understanding.
After attempting to make contact with Senators and Representatives to no avail; one cannot help but feel as though they’re fighting a battle that cannot be won. At least not in the crony-capitalist sense of victory which involves dirty tactics, deceit, and lots of money to silence critics or pay politicians for loyalty.
The cigarette/tobacco industry is an $86 billion a year industry. Letting those profits go will not be without a fight. Here are a few examples of politicians who accept money from big tobacco and push legislation for them:
John Boehner (R-OH) Former House Speaker
Received $41,000 from Altria as well as his committee receiving two payment of $25,000 in 2013 and again in 2014 from Rj Reynolds.
Richard Burr (R-NC) Senate
Received $91,350 from R.J. Reynolds
Mitch McConnel (R-KY) Senate Majority Leader
Accepted $36,550 from Altria in 2014
John Cornyn(R-TX) Senate
$34,434 From Altria in 2014
These amounts do not include contributions made to the PACs these individuals belong to. This is another method to siphon money to lawmakers. Here are some examples of the influence money can buy big tobacco:
National Republican Congressional Committee
2014- $327,700 from Altria
Every Republican is Crucial PAC
$62,950 from Altria in 2014
National Committee for Senatorial Republicans
2014 received $32,400 from Altria and $15,000 from R.J. Reynolds
They have even given money to a fund the so-called Committee for the Preservation of Capitalism which is incredibly ironic considering in its traditional sense what big tobacco is doing is promoting crony capitalism. Creating a monopoly on the market by swooning legislatures with lavish gifts and money is hardly a fair playing field for small businesses. As if it isn’t enough that our politicians are being bought, they also have interest in saving big tobacco for the sake of their portfolios. The following list shows elected representatives with financial interests in the form of owing stock in Altria, makers of Marlboro cigarettes:
No doubt these relationships scream conflict of interest but not many are interested in pointing this out or acknowledging their participation in a monopoly on the market. Sure it is easier to play the game by the rules that have always existed but if we play by those rules it would be comparable to the Battle of Thermopylae where the Greeks were vastly outnumbered. The vape industry can be the courageous 300 who fought even though they were guaranteed death, but in the end the Persians, in our case big tobacco, will prevail the victor in an unfair fight. History repeats itself in all forms, through ideology and method. What big tobacco has in store for us is no different than what those who fought the Persians were threatened with; total dominance.
Our fight has been ongoing and we have had our victories with the individual states, however, federal law is sweeping and regulation will be very costly. That is after all the intention; choke us up with regulation until the cost wipes us off the map.
This vape industry as we know it was created the people all across this country with the intentions of helping, creating variety, and most importantly innovation. Vaping devices have become safer and makers of e-liquid took the approach to disclose the contents long before the FDA proposed the need. This industry has virtually self-regulated itself by not contributing to minors and verifying the safety of products through testing.
Big Tobacco companies, such as R.J. Reynold’s, have dabbled in the e-cigarette industry releasing a digitial device of their own called VUZE. If I have learned one thing being associated with the industry in the early days of vaping is that cig-a-likes (look like a metal cigarette) aren’t sufficient enough to curb the cravings. Surely, R.J. Reynold’s knows this is the case because they lobbied to allow only cartridges on the market since they are “easier to assure safety and regulations.” Never mind the only ones to benefit from this type of arrangement is R.J. Reynolds for two reason; one that leads to the other, the probable chain reaction that would happen if they had it their way. First, people wouldn’t use the devices since they are ineffective and cost consuming. However, they received their cut of the consumer giving e-cigarettes a shot only to find out they do not work. The second part of this is where they get their loyal consumer back to a pack a day habit that benefits their bottom line. Never mind the fact that VUZE is not the preferred device of well, a single one of the thousands of vaper’s I have met, they have convinced consumers that all devices are ineffective and traditional smoking is safer (easier too!)
Many vapers are appalled by such nonsense. We collectively cannot believe anyone would not be successful given the right instruction and information about these devices. With the ease of finding a vape shop these days it is absolutely an alien ideology that as vapers, we cannot grasp upon. Some of us have been vaping for many years and do not experience the terrible side effects of smoking anymore. Science is a useful tool, but ignoring the research we have done on ourselves, willingly, and telling us we are not healthier is not scientific but rather politically charged by those who seek to silence the truth about this industry.
If any real danger were to be brought to the forefront it should be nicotine dosage. VUZE sells cartridges with various nicotine levels as many companies do that make e-liquid. The major contrast here is VUZE is selling nicotine at incredibly high doses that no other company in the industry would ever consider selling to consumers. The highest dose of a whopping 48mg is not an acceptable strength to sell to a consumer. In fact, I find VUSE incredibly irresponsible and believe the FDA should consider the safety of having disposable cartridges all over in landfills due to the high maintenance required by a VUSE's devices.
While VUZE may pretend to be part of the vaping industry the sad truth is they’re not representative or any part of the industry the majority of us operate in. They move contrary to the group and rather than progress they seek to continue with a method proven not to work. I believe this is intentional and malicious against all people who work hard every day to keep this industry viable. The constant battle is not about safety it is about money and politics. The money that we work for is rightfully their profit and all attempts to take it back are being deployed as we speak. Even some of our own have flip-flopped into the arms of big tobacco by allowing their brands to be put into the cartridges. At this point, few are willing to throw themselves on the train tracks to spare the rest. This is understandable but sleeping with the enemy has never been a popular move as far as public opinion is concerned. It has become increasingly difficult to tell who is on what side of this war. Many have jumped
The vape industry has tried it’s hardest to motivate vapers to take action and they’re often met by silence. One organization speaks out and the FDA jumps to flex their legislative muscle at thousands of companies contributing jobs and money to a struggling economy. This seems irresponsible on behalf of our lawmakers considering again, these people are supposed to work for WE THE PEOPLE! In January 2016, it was estimated the industry would hit a new worth of $10 Billion. Its unfathomable that our legislatures would turn down a booming industry for the sake of keeping the status quo alive and well.
Please share this information to help save the community from business killing hyper-regulation.