Of course, the author of that article immediately came under fire from many within the vaping community. However, there is some (relatively) good news. The author, Julia Belluz has taken some time to speak to one of us vapers and put out an opposing view.
The tone of the interview suggests to me that Ms Belluz is trying to keep an open mind despite having written the previous article. However, one of the questions she asked hinted that she had doubts about the whole thing.
JB: I need to ask you: Are you paid by, or do you have any connections to, the vaping or tobacco industry?
Remember how Ms Belluz claimed in her previous article that we were “Big Vaping”? This one question certainly raised my eyebrows as it seems clear (to me) that she still doubts that the vaping advocates that are active are not being paid to advocate. The response was in a word, perfect:
MN: I’m not on anyone’s payroll. And I do not believe that any vaper with any sort of ethics or moral code is accepting money from Big Tobacco.
I want to be clear: I am an average guy. I don’t have connections anywhere. I don’t even think I’m a member of the advocacy groups.
Most vaping advocates are just that, average people with no connections to the vaping industry. Some do support advocacy groups (I do), some donate to those groups (again, I do). But I can guarantee that no-one gets any payment for the efforts they put in. To suggest otherwise lumps us together with “Big Tobacco” which is frankly insulting.
Even though the new article is meant to offer some balance to the previous article that caused such a ruckus within the community, the introduction leaves a lot to be desired.
By contrast, the vaping community sees e-cigarettes as a powerful tool to get people off tobacco. Even if e-cigarettes have side effects, these advocates say, they can’t possibly be as harmful as regular cigarettes. Many believe these devices have saved their lives, and they see any effort to slow down the adoption of e-cigarettes through regulation as extremely harmful.
Still doubtful about electronic cigarettes then as she only quotes the community and not the science which supports our view.
To make matters more complicated, there’s a lot of uncertainty about the impact of vaping on traditional smoking. And the ingredients in e-cigarettes aren’t always disclosed, making it harder to be clear on their health impact. So for now, regulators aren’t sure how to deal with the $2.5 billion e-cigarette market — which means their marketing and use has long been a free-for-all.
Therein lies the rub I think. The simple fact is, the vaping industry is worth a reasonable chunk of change to the US economy, nowhere near that of the tobacco industry of course, but vaping is making in-roads. What does surprise me is the mention of marketing. Being in the UK, I don’t see half of what goes on “across the pond”, but here at least e-cig marketing is heavily restricted. Cannot advertise health benefits, or even mention e-cigs as an aid to cessation. Not to mention that some of the TV ads that have been aired have been pulled because of “complaints”.
Of course, vaping advocates are “enraged” about some of the proposals being put forward. If those proposals succeed as they stand, vaping as we know it is done. The consumer stepped up to the plate when “traditional” methods weren’t successful, and now that the alternative is more successful (despite the supposed “evidence” being pushed by some, yes Stan I’m looking at you), agencies are looking to place heavy burdens on the fledgling industry, all in the name of “public health”.
Whilst I appreciate that Ms Belluz has taken the time to speak to one of us in an effort to at least to be seen to provide some balance, the article can only be considered luke-warm at best in my opinion. It would be better if she had taken the time to speak to the likes of Clive Bates, Michael Siegel, Robert West, or Peter Hajek to name a few.
I also want to offer a huge thanks to Mr Big Vapor, Michael “510” Nance for taking time out of his schedule to put his views across to Ms Belluz.
I wonder just how much media coverage this article will get, considering the previous article was spread far and wide by many people.