Our Strategy: Coordinated Grassroots Activism

Vapor devices represent a disruptive technology poised to dramatically reduce the incidence of tobacco related death and disease. Unfortunately, due to lack of awareness, education, and activity, legislation based on fear, not facts, is sailing through legislatures across the nation. Legislation limiting access or usage of vapor devices directly harms the public health, by de facto encouragement of tobacco consumption. It is proposed that to effectively benefit the public health, THR advocacy efforts aught be paired and integrated with grassroots activists across the nation, to work towards their mutual benefit, and the benefit of the billion lives that will be lost to tobacco over the next century. Millions of Americans have already successfully reduced or eliminated their tobacco consumption by replacing smoke with vapor, which all credible scientific evidence indicates poses a significantly lower health risk. Of these millions of individuals who have benefited from vaping however, too few are taking an active role in their democracy to effectively protect the technology saving their lives. Consequently, even though the vast majority of affected individuals disagree with legislation limiting the use of vapor devices, this bad legislation continues to pass. It is put forth in this white paper that, to benefit the public health by encouraging Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) with a special emphasis on vapor devices, a grassroots activist movement in addition to existing advocacy efforts is necessary. Whereas legislators can ignore a handful of voices, or a disorganized public, they simply cannot ignore a clamorous public outcry backed by expert authority —and keep their job. By combining effective lobbying and advocacy efforts with large and demonstrable public support, it will be possible to ensure the greatest public heath advance of the 21st century is not regulated out of existence. To create the proposed grassroots movement, it is essential to accept reality and design a sustainable process that can effectively target individuals who would be willing activists for the THR cause, give them the resources they need to speak credibly on the subject, and the tools they need to make their voice heard. The reality is, of the millions of individuals vapor devices have benefited, the vast majority of these individuals have 0 contact with the vapor community outside of their local brick and mortar retail shop. If the vast majority of stakeholders in the fight for vaper’s rights can only be engaged via vape shops, it follows a comprehensive solution must first incorporate a means to engage B&M vapor product retailers as stakeholders in the fight to defend vaping. As such, the FreedomBox was developed primarily as a means to create active, meaningful, lasting relationships with B&M retailers, and more fully engage them as allies in the grassroots advocacy process. Building an infrastructure to engage a large audience is necessary, but not sufficient for an effective grassroots movement however. Once the audience is gained, it is important to provide them with the most effective means by which they can translate their effort into effective action regarding legislation affecting Vaping. Towards this end, it is proposed that a multi-modal array of online and in person communications tools can and should be developed by V.A.P.E Society to work alongside and support existing Advocacy efforts. Though V.A.P.E Society may  engage in direct lobbying efforts as needed, V.A.P.E. Society is first and foremost a platform for Vapers and Advocates to unite, work to their mutual benefit, and offer substantial benefit to the Public Health and society at large in the process.