Is there actually a vaping community, or am I dreaming?

It seems like years since I last made an entry in this blog.  It has in fact only been a few weeks.  So little time has passed in the ever evolving world and so much has happened.

For a while there was plenty to be happy about within the vaping world. Dr Farsalinos managed to crowd fund his research, although it took a last ditch effort from the community.  The San Francisco #curbit campaign got hijacked by vapers on social media.  #FormaledhydeGate rumbled on, again.  Got thoroughly debunked, again.  The US Surgeon General called for “Clarity” on electronic cigarettes.

The California Department of Public Health declare e-cigs a “health threat” prompted by the pug faced troll, more commonly known as Stanton Glantz.  Various “public health” agencies and charities immediately called for bans and restrictions, etc. etc. etc. More yada yada.

Over this relatively brief period, I have consistently been amazed at the tenacity, stubbornness, and knowledge of various highly active vaping advocates.  These fine folk, without exception respond to and thoroughly debunk a lot of misinformation being published in mainstream media.  They jump all over social media and make their opinions known, and they are utterly relentless in their passion to defend our right to choose a safer alternative to smoking.

I’m not going to list those advocates here as you probably already know who they are, and indeed what they do for this community.  But this isn’t a round-up type post, it’s a rant because I’ve been vaping for (almost) eight months now and in that short space of time, I’ve gone from being absolutely stunned at the size of the community.  I’ve gone through amazement at the sheer variety of people, devices and choices available.  Somehow, I managed to take a wrong turn into dismay at the sheer incompetence of several prominent figures within “Tobacco Control” and “Public Health” who continuously insist that vaping is “as bad as smoking” (which we know it damn well isn’t).

Bypassing anger entirely at the continuous anti-vaping sentiment from “Public Health” and, my personal favourite, the fucking public who categorically state that vaping is bad for you and we should just “give it up”.  (We could of course “grow a backbone” but that’s another story).

Being a vaper presents a myriad of challenges all linked to the “War on Tobacco” but that isn’t the real rub here.  My own personal disappointment is one of numbers.

On Facebook I’m a member of several vaping groups where we like to bounce around the “hand check” posts, ask and answer questions, and generally enjoy life as a vaper with other like minded vapers.  The total number of members in four groups alone, is TWELVE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY.  

That is just FOUR Facebook groups.  Granted, there is going to be some overlap where the same person is in several groups, but even then it is still a healthy enough figure.  Many of those people also have Twitter accounts (I certainly do) along with forum memberships (which I don’t).  I wonder exactly how many online groups (Facebook), forums and other social sites (such as Google+) there are, and how many users are in them.

A lot more the twelve thousand that is for damn sure.

This is where it gets absolutely insane.  One of these users is, to put it mildly, a freaking genius and is planning on approaching IEEE in an effort to introduce more consistent safety in the batteries and devices we use.  Last time I checked, the Go Fund Me had been active for 17 days and had only received less than a third of his requested total of £1,500.  Remember, this gentleman is going to be doing this entirely for our benefit and he has only received eight donations.  To say I’m stunned would be a total understatement of exactly how disappointed and outraged I actually am.

Facebook (groups I am a member of) – 12,440

A valid crowd funding page – 8

That is hugely disappointing, especially considering that its all completely voluntary from the person in question.  He doesn’t have to do it, he wants to do it because he wants to make vaping consistently safer.  If everyone in each of the groups I’m a member of donated a single pound to this he’d be able to do the stated work and a whole lot more.  Understandably, not everyone can donate but even if half of those groups donate…its mind boggling the number of vapers that just do not seem to care.

And it is spreading.  Totally Wicked are challenging Article 20 of the Tobacco Products Directive which, if passed, will effectively end vaping as we know it.  At last check, they had received support from only five thousand, one hundred and twenty six people.

Again, look at the numbers:

Facebook – 12,440

Article 20 Challenge – 5126

It is utterly disgraceful.  In the UK alone there is meant to be 3.1 MILLION vapers, so why in seven hells are only five thousand lending their support to Totally Wicked? Why out of the estimated 3.1 million UK vapers, did we only get thirty thousand signatures on the European Free Vaping Initiative?

Does the community actually care about vaping?

Based on my own observations, and those of the “super active” advocates the answer to that question is:

No

So why do I keep trying to fight?

As Tyrion Lannister says “I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.”

*Update, I completely forgot to update this post earlier. The IEEE Go Fund me did get completed, courtesy of a discussion on VTTV and the support of the awesome peeps in chat, and at last count TW had close on 10K supporters.

11 thoughts on “Is there actually a vaping community, or am I dreaming?

  1. Interesting article and points. I am trying to support the cause and created a website eCig Directory UK to help people find shops in their local area, visit http://ecigdirectory.co.uk for more information. Really good blog, thanks :)

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    • Thanks! Resources like that directory can come in handy :-)

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  2. totally agree with you. I make a point of debunking any nonsense I come across, constantly tweet and retweet various bits of info and pester the living bejesus out of my facebook friends, most of whom I assume are bored crapless with me. Not bothered. In my opinion, if you vape it should be your DUTY to do all you can to help protect our right to vape. Too many are far too complacent and seem happy to let others do the work. It frustrates me how few vaping shops I go into seem bothered about promoting the cause to their customers – after all, they might well be out of business in a years time. Even if you don’t vape, and haven’t been affected by all the BS coming out in the media on a regular basis, there’s a fair chance you know and care for someone who smokes – shouldn’t they be just as keen to ensure that there’s a safer alternative available?

    People – GET OFF YOUR ARSES!!!!!!!!!!

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    • Everyone can do something in between waxing lyrical about the new shiny they’ve just bought. Even if it’s as simple as asking “did you know about this”.

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      • so many don’t seem to. I’ve been giving thought to putting together some business cards with brief, bullet pointed info on it and handing them to anyone I see vaping when I’m out and about. If enough people did that it’d make a difference I’m sure.

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        • That’s a great idea! I remember someone else looking into the exact same thing, a simple double sided card to hand out. Trouble is, I can’t find who it was now (I know, my memory is just so crap).

          If I can find it, or if you get this done I’ll put up a post along with some links and share it around.

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  3. Oh, and another point. I feel totally wicked should not have put their name against the campaign – yes it’s publicity for them but lots of people won’t want to be seen to be supporting them as a company.

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  4. I see this a lot too, vapers just turning a blind eye to advocacy. I am in the USA, and people looking out only for their own interests is nothing new here (many of my countrymen seem proud to be this self-centered). That doesn’t bother me as much as the vapers that are downright hostile when someone brings up advocacy with statements like “take that advocacy crap somewhere else”. I can understand, to a point, not being an activist, I can understand not donating money if it is hard to understand the purpose of a project (when I heard about the IEEE project, it needed to be explained to me by the guy doing it as if I were a 5-year old child before I got the gist of it, and I still don’t completely understand it) or if funds are low. I do not think I will ever understand when vapers knock others for taking an active role in advocacy. But one thing that I think might be one cause for lack of participation in advocacy is the habit of groups developing an attitude of “If you are not advocating OUR way, you are doing it wrong”. I get it, they have developed a system that has shown success and want to apply it rather than re-inventing the wheel every time – that makes a lot of sense. But this “we ALONE know what works best” style turns people off to the groups and, as in my case, away from groups entirely – that leaves some to go their own way and either form their own groups (like there aren’t enough already) or just go it alone (something most groups are vehemently against). There is nothing wrong with ‘tried and true’ methods of advocacy – but toning down the attitude that some of the organized groups have might entice more people to become involved instead of driving them away from being involved in advocacy.

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    • I totally agree. Just because it works for one group doesn’t mean it won’t work for others.

      The whole idea behind advocacy for me, is to get the word out and challenge others preconceptions about ideas. Some methods work, and some don’t. This tit for tat stuff really doesn’t help the cause.

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