Vaping News

WVA Responds To Funding Questions

The WVA hits back at allegations that it is an AstroTurf group acting as a front for British American Tobacco

Share on:
The World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) has hit back at allegations that it is an AstroTurf group, acting as a front for British American Tobacco (BAT). Articles in The Daily Beast and on Vaping 360 made strong claims but Michael Landl, WVA’s director, strongly refutes the suggestions and says it “is annoying when … journalists spin public information into a conspiracy”.

Last week, we reported that The Daily Beast wrote that it had seen documents and received information from sources that confirms, “British American Tobacco has played a central and hands-on role in orchestrating, directing, and funding the World Vapers’ Alliance. To do so, the company teamed up with its European public affairs firm and a U.S.-based ‘dark money’ non-profit with financial roots in the murky world of right-wing billionaires. And they have all gone to extraordinary lengths to keep the company’s involvement under wraps.”

Michael Landl writes: “Media outlets recently claimed to “reveal” the organisational structure of the WVA. Yes, we get our funding from the Consumer Choice Centre. This is true, but not a secret. Interested journalists can go to our website and see this in the ‘about us’ section. The Consumer Choice Centre has an open blog post dedicated to the reasons why they support the WVA, and they disclose their donors including nicotine and tobacco companies. There is just no secret. The frustrating part is that media outlets can spin public information into some kind of conspiracy theory. The WVA has full independence in its work, and nobody interferes in our work. Any suggestion that a donor would or could direct our activities or approve our public statements are simply untrue and fake news. As long as I am here, this will not change.”

I was a smoker who started pretty early and ended up getting addicted,” says Landl. “But, in 2016 I decided to try vaping. I visited the vape shop around the corner in Vienna, received fantastic advice from the owner, and basically stopped smoking from that moment on.”

He continues: “In summer 2020 I reached out to my old friends from the Consumer Choice Centre, who had started to bring together like-minded individuals and groups who have seen first-hand the benefits and potential of vaping under the umbrella of the World Vapers Alliance The goal of the initiative is to amplify the voice of passionate vapers around the world and empower them to make a difference for their communities. To bring vapers around the world together to make sure they are heard, combat misinformation about vaping, and support campaigns to ensure regulations are drafted with vapers’ and public health interests at heart.”

This all leads to the big question. Why do activists and organisations like the WVA constantly get attacked? I think the simple answer is that it’s because vaping is winning. The science is clear, consumers want it, and more and more politicians (but still too few) are realising the potential vaping has in reducing the harm of smoking tobacco. Haters gonna hate, but it seems not to be a coincidence that these attacks against the WVA are coming at the end of a very successful campaign around the Beating Cancer Plan. We campaigned for the inclusion of the harm reduction principle in the plan and against a potential flavour ban. This resulted in an EU institution admitting for the first time in history that vaping can help smokers to switch and committing to harm reduction. In addition, a full flavour ban for vaping was no longer included. Obviously, these wins were the result of the efforts of many organisations and experts, but it is undeniable that the WVA played an important role in the process. This made us a target. The anti-vapers don’t want us to win, and this is what we shouldn’t forget.”

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
View Articles

Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

Join the discussion

Vaping News

CAPHRA Highlights Tobacco Control Flaws

The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates highlights the flaws in tobacco control which has led to the rise of black market in Australia

Vaping News

Come To GFN24!

Everyone is going to be welcome at #GFN24 as organisers say it will be an “antidote” to clandestine WHO COP10 and its meetings behind closed doors

Vaping News

CAPHRA Repeats Call For Transparency

Consumer body CAPHRA has repeated calls for greater transparency and engagement from World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control officials

Vaping News

French Plans Will Push People To Smoke

The French government’s nicotine and tobacco policy risks pushing people towards cigarettes says a consumer advocacy organisation