Lately, the number of attacks on vaping advocacy groups and their members have been growing and comments regarding funding are frequently thrust to the fore. The question as to whether they should accept contributions from the tobacco or vape industry is constantly being considered.
In May, POTV wrote on how the British Medical Journal was worrying over tobacco companies influencing politicians and the parliamentary process [link]. There is “a worrying network of links between the Institute of Economic Affairs … and leading Conservative politicians,” it said before adding a quote from ASH UK: “While the IEA keeps its funding sources private, British American Tobacco has confirmed that it funds the IEA.”
Many vapers hold strong reservations about tobacco-funded advocacy but, given the onslaught of anti-vaping propaganda, how do advocacy groups counter the millions being pumped into those marketing lies?
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, through Bloomberg Philanthropies, has committed to crushing vaping in America by handing over $160 million to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK).
Under the banner of “Protect Kids: Fight Flavoured E-Cigarettes,” CTFK will be using the money to campaign to eradicate all flavoured liquids and sealed pod systems – launched against a backdrop of the organisation whipping up fear of lung disease with its incessant stream of mistruths.
CTFK will be pushing its agenda of flavours by harping on about “kid-friendly flavours such as mint, mango, gummy bear and cotton candy” that are “fueling” a teen “epidemic”.
Lying at the outset, CTFK said: “There is … substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases the risk of using combustible tobacco cigarettes among youth and young adults.”
Bloomberg backed them up: “E-cigarette companies and the tobacco companies that back them are preying on America’s youth. They are using the same marketing tactics that once lured kids to cigarettes, and the result is an epidemic that is spiraling out of control and putting kids in danger of addiction and serious health problems.”
The three-year initiative has four goals:
Remove flavored e-cigarettes from the marketplace
- Ensure e-cigarette products are subjected to review before they reach the market and products now on the market are reviewed promptly
- End marketing practices that appeal to kids
- Stop online e-cigarette sales until sales to kids can be prevented
Quite how they plan on preventing teens from accessing the internet hasn’t been shared with the general public; but then the entire point is to create unachievable targets to ensure a permanent ban.
Yes, accepting money from the tobacco or vape industry lays organisations open to criticism that they are shills and part of a global PR campaign – but how else can a small group of volunteers existing on a shoestring budget hope to combat the multiple millions going into the fake oppoisition to tobacco harm reduction? It is a conundrum that has no easy answer. Meanwhile countless smokers are dissuaded from switching and stories abound of vapers being scared back to tobacco.
How do you think vaping should react to Bloomberg’s millions? Tell us on the POTV forum [link].