Vapers Turning Into Activists
In the midst of the ongoing vape debate comes the rise of a new type of legislative force — the vape activist.
As the deeming regulations begin to take effect here in America, more and more vape entrepreneurs and consumers are turning to activism as a way to voice their concerns and lobby for common sense vape legislation. These activists range from doctors and lawyers to small business owners who take their considerable knowledge of the vape industry — and their relationships with vapers — and use it to create a dialogue with legislators about the importance and impact vaping has on public health.
An article published this week from Motherboard, a subsidiary of the media giant Vice, introduces one such activist.
Cheryl Richter, a former smoker who smoked a pack of traditional cigarettes a day for 30 years, was able to quit when she was given the choice to begin vaping. Her switch to vaping became a career for her — she now co-owns a retail shop in Port Chester, New York, called Vape Den, as well as runs a wholesale online business with her friend and business partner Chris Mikovits.
Together Richter and Mikovits have branched out from selling vape devices and juices to creating their own e-liquid lines and innovative accessories. Since 2009, the pair has created an expanding business that covers not just selling vape products but educating their customers on vaping and how it can change their lives for the better.
“It’s just something that I’m extremely passionate about, and now having done this for so long and seeing some of my customers that have been smoke-free for so long and, hearing their stories,” Richter said in the interview with Motherboard reporter Natasa Bansagi, “I know I’m doing the right thing.”
But now the pair have moved on to not just discussing vaping with their customers — they’re vape activists. Richter and Mikovits have both appeared on Capitol Hill several times in the past few years to discuss the changing landscape of vaping with legislators in the hopes that their words and knowledge of the industry will better inform those who are tasked with the regulation of vape products.
Richter has cited the deeming regulations over the use and sale of vape products — including pre-market reviews of nearly all the products currently on the market — as a valid concern for vapers who fear that the new laws will mark the end of the vape industry. Because most vape companies are small businesses, many will not be able to afford separate reviews for each of their products and may shutter in response to the new laws.
Vape activists like Richter are banning together with consumer vaping and industry associations, such as the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, in order to create a coherent and focused voice for the industry. As more and more people switch from smoking to vaping, activists are confident that the number of people asking questions about vape legislation will grow and put pressure on politicians to listen to their constituents and make decisions based on their needs and concerns.
Other associations, such as the National Vapers Club, are compiling information on vape legislation passed or debated on legislative floors to give vapers a better understanding of what the laws mean and which politicians are voting for — or against — the legislation.
For now, activists are focusing their attention on educating the vaping public through articles and easy access to studies so that they are better educated on how vape products can improve the lives of smokers if they switch. Activists such as Richter say that education is the only way to ensure that vapers who are affected by the regulations will be able to fight back — and win.