Standing Together – Killing our Own Movement
Recently we published a series about Standing Together as a community. We discussed different issues that, as a community, could negatively impact our ability to fight for our right to vape. We didn’t stop there, but also proposed options to work to correct those areas within the community and what we can do together to keep vaping accessible. While within the community it seems as though vaping is mainstream, the reality is we are a very, very small fish fighting in a very big pond. The only way we can hope to survive and maintain our vaping freedom is by standing united and speaking out together. I realize I may end up stepping on a few toes. I will be as tactful as possible, and genuinely do not mean to offend. However, recently a new trend has arisen, or at least come to my attention, within the community that I feel needs to be addressed.
Take a moment with me and look at the picture above. That is where we are right now, the King (Big Tobacco) and Queen (Big Pharma) are looking down on this pesky little movement of vaping that is costing them money and watching with enjoyed entertainment as we fight amongst ourselves. We should be fighting against them, but we’re too busy getting caught up and focusing on things that, honestly in the long run do not matter when it comes to the future of vaping. We need to take a moment to step back and realize that this portrayal above is what we’re doing to ourselves, which ultimately results in the possible death of the industry.
So, what could be so bad within the community to evoke this much passion in my response? In answer, all I can say is the extreme reaction of inconsequential details by the community and the lack of reaction to the vital aspects of our battle. Allow me to provide a couple of examples to more clearly explain the issue.
When one of our policies changed, specifically only offering 0 nicotine free samples, there was quite a bit of feedback from the community. People were genuinely angry and stating they would no longer be willing to do business with our company because we no longer provide a free sampling created to their exact request specifications. The change in the policy has allowed us the ability to provide many additional things for the community, including the speed of our shipping, the price-point of our e-juice and more. However, none of that mattered to those who could not get exactly what they wanted how they wanted, for free with their order. While I understand that change is hard, and for many of us, we will not consistently vape 0 nicotine because the point of vaping is the nicotine. This was a major talking point across several social media channels for weeks. At the same time, there were news articles stating that in order to learn more about the vaping community, groups were receiving grants to scan social media and learn about who we are and why we are so passionate about vaping. What do you think they saw when they looked at vaping during those two weeks? Did they see people who were thrilled at the positive changes in their lives due to this new and innovative alternative to smoking? Or did they see a group of people who were content to fight amongst themselves over who likes which company best for whatever reason?
Allow me to provide another example. Recently we have been publishing a blog series entitled Meet Mt. Baker Vapor. We as a company are a part of this community, and wanted to be able to allow our customers to get to know us as people, not just an online business. In this series, a few of our employees mentioned that they were not previously smokers, and do not vape. The result from some of our customers honestly shocked me. More than one member of the community stated on our blog that they would no longer do business with, or trust our company because some of our employees do not vape. Leaving the blatant discrimination argument out of the equation, I for one am proud to have people who are not using the product believe in it so much that they are willing to fight for it’s existence. Imagine you own an auto repair shop. Do you require that the person you hire as your Human Resources Manager know how to take apart an engine, fix it and put it back together? No, the qualifications for hiring a person in that position would be based on whether they know anything about Human Resources. To expect that we, as a vaping company would only hire former smokers or current vapers for any position is counter productive to the ultimate goal of our business. The owners of this company started Mt. Baker Vapor because vaping changed their lives. In building the company they have brought on people who are best suited to the positions that need to be filled. Just because you vape doesn’t mean you are then an expert at legislation, lobbying, advertising, or customer service. Vaping simply means you have found something that offers you a positive alternative to smoking. However, not vaping does not mean you don’t understand the industry, or that you don’t believe in the positive alternative for those who would benefit from it. I’m proud that people who don’t personally have addictions believe so much in the product we offer that they are willing to fight for it right along side us addicts.
As I have said previously, I am an avid vaper. I was a smoker for years, and was absolutely astonished that I was not only able to quit, but to enjoy the process! That would never have happened had I not started working here at Mt. Baker Vapor. Yet, the reactions I have seen recently from members of the community have honestly made me embarrassed to be a part of it. We are fighting battles on all sides against bans, restrictions, the possible closing of businesses and inability to even have vapor products accessible at all. Why in the world are we fighting amongst ourselves over such trivial matters?
Let’s all take a breath and step back for a moment. We started vaping because we wanted an alternative to smoking that didn’t have the thousands of chemicals and carcinogens. Right now Big Tobacco and Big Pharma are doing everything within their power to restrict or eliminate this alternative all together. We, a tiny group compared to their resources and reach, have the nerve to cost them money and feel healthier without them. Sadly, with things like those I’ve described above, we’re doing a lot of their work for them in destroying the movement. The only way vaping as an option will survive is if we all stand together against the waves of misinformation and overbearing legislation crashing against us. So, let’s stop fighting amongst ourselves and helping them in their efforts!
Something to think about:
The majority of voters don’t smoke or vape. The only thing they know about our industry is what they see online and in the news. How are our actions affecting their perceptions?
Written by: Michelle Harnden