Day 1 opened with a class by Joe Barnett of the Vaping Militia. Talking points included joining state advocacy groups. Why do vendors not know who their state advocacy groups are that are fighting for their rights, and many times without monetary support? Talking to other vendors or states that are well organized can be your best tool to find out what is and is not working for them. In states that have a lobbyist, the vendors need to continue to work with their lobbyist to educate them on the vaping industry.
Cynthia Cabrera from SFATA also opened with information. “[To combat the recent negative PR against electronic cigarettes] we need to continue to educate the public health departments, the public and the legislators. And, ultimately, it’s the public. We have people that are fearful because they don’t know what the product is, so they have a knee jerk reaction to it. Those people interact with the legislators and the media. So, we need to get the message out there, and we need to do a better job of that and coordinating our efforts. Let’s not focus on the stuff that’s not going to get us anything. Let’s focus on the stuff that’s going to make a difference.” SFATA is a trade organization, so it is not a consumer organization. The consumers need to work beside SFATA to tell the anecdotal evidence that businesses can’t. The purpose of joining with your competitors is to fight for a common goal. There are issues that continue to affect the industry year round. This industry needs to band together, because we will all go down with the same bills. We need to focus more on getting the work done and not on drama. At a national level, the Tobacco Control Act insured that there were no longer going to be new tobacco products entering the market. Mitch Zeller of the FDA will be the key note speaker at the SFATA national conference. Cynthia also stuck around to answer questions and concerns made by various vendors.
Mondo Mendez, Nacht Noir and Robin Barsky were the key note speakers at the 3pm advocacy education meeting for consumers. Every industry has a lobbyist. Consumers need to support and push the vendors to get active in getting a lobbyist and working with them. We need to stand up for ourselves, our vendors and stand up to our elected officials. The best bill is the one that is never introduced because everyone is educating their politicians. It is essential that vapers are watching for their Call to Actions published by various advocacy groups. Some cities are trying to ban flavors, indoor use bans and even attempting to ban all tobacco sales. The Vaping Militia helps you to understand the next step vapers need to follow if there is a bill or ordinance introduced. We need to develop a vast open network to aid in the dissention of information. The biggest thing we try to do at the Vaping Militia is to instill a sense of passion to consumers to advocate.
Paul Blair from Americans for Tax Reform was the last speaker at 5pm. In many states, taxes are getting so high that it is creating a black market of tobacco cigarettes. For years public health officials claimed increase in taxes are for public health benefit. The same people are now just short of admitting “we just want the money”. Not a single person has died from the proper use of electronic cigarettes. There is no enforcement methods to take taxes from consumers online sales across state lines. That is why we are seeing states discussing banning online sales. When a state has a 95% tax on products, the consumers will avoid it by purchasing online which in turn forces the state to lose out on the the sales tax they would have taken. Vapers are the newest group of people who are asking the government to “leave us alone”. When you think of home schoolers, LGBT, gun owners etc. they are all a part of the “leave us alone coalition”. Vapers represent one of the few of these groups that are growing, and can be an effective political movement in the future if it is well organized. Every penny increase in eliquid tax will encourage current smokers to continue smoking.
All in all I enjoyed the entire day thoroughly. I got to do a couple vlogs with the Vaping Militia and the President (Chelle) of the National Vapers Club. You can find the YouTube videos on my Facebook page. I learned about some of the issues facing other portions of our country, got to meet some great companies and, yes, I got some free eliquid. I didn’t realize that I took all of the exhibit pictures on my camera (that I can’t upload without a computer available) until most of the exhibits were torn down, so I promise I’ll put some into tomorrow’s article. I asked around to as many possible eliquid companies as I could, and it seems like the industry is starting to take a more responsible approach to diacetyl and AP testing. Tonight is karaoke, and I fully intend on doing some singing. I’ll write more to all of you tomorrow!
You can find information on Vape Fest Las Vegas running this Friday and Saturday at 2pm pacific on http://www.vapefest.com
If you are a dog tag wearing member of the Vaping Militia and wish to write an article for http://www.thevapingmilitia.org please contact Alex Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Carlson is the creator of the Ridiculous! Vape Vlog, a YouTube news show based on consumer interests in the vaping community.