With What We Know, Why All the Fuss?
Welcome to the 14th and final blog in the Knowledge is Power series. Last week we took a look at all the information we have learned over the past several weeks. With all the information we have found regarding the realities surrounding e-cigarettes, today we ask a different question. With all that we know, why is there so much controversy surrounding e-cigarettes and vaping?
Prevent Disease article *Fear of the Unknown is Creating Hysteria states “Being afraid of the unknown is not a new concept. From birth to death, we’ve been trained to fear everything for a very long time. It’s why laws exist. We fear everything, so we must naturally attempt to control or prevent what we fear most. People who are fearful are very hesitant to explore new concepts or embrace other possibilities. What’s more, media outlets, politicians, modern medicine and businesses all have learned to capitalize on this distinctly modern sense of dread, and thus profit from finding ways to cultivate it. Until we find a way to resist fear, we’ll live at the mercy of these emotional entrepreneurs, and in doing so, be party to the personal, cultural, and political consequences.” Meaning that not only are we afraid of what we don’t understand; but that there are entities that capitalize and profit on those fears. How much have we heard in the news about Big Tobacco, and it’s relation to the vaping industry. So, if fear is at the core of the issue, how do we go about resolving that issue? You may have already guessed my answer, but I’m going to share it with you anyway. Education and information are the weapons we use to battle fear. It’s not just a clique; knowledge truly is power allowing us to set aside our fears and move past our reservations based on the information we have accumulated. If you know what to expect, the fear is minimized. This brings us to our next question, people who are afraid and uninterested in change are often referred to as a hostile audience. So, how do you get a hostile audience to hear what you have to say?
Toastmasters International, a world leader in communication and leadership development, published **Handling the Hostile Crowd in which they shared the following information: “No matter how polished and professional your skills are, you can’t control how your audience acts. Many speakers have encountered problematic individuals. These difficult people may seem quite different from us, but are they really? Perhaps they are simply exaggerated forms of our own imperfections.” Meaning, understand where your audience is coming from and take that into account. The article goes on to provide tips for communicating effectively with this type of audience, “Take the time to check facts, you owe your audience integrity. Double-checking information also serves to solidify your confidence and enables you to more easily cope with the bullies who confront you on accuracy. Staying focused on your gut-level motive supersedes any annoyance and helps you to stay the course. Pick your battles carefully; not all of them need to be won. When you stop demanding that others adhere to your point of view, you can relax, take a step back and allow confrontation without feeling threatened. So what if someone else sees the proposition differently? You don’t have to change people who choose to act disrespectfully. What you must do, however, is prevent them from interfering with the rights of the rest of the group.” What this is saying is, be sure that what you’re saying is true, choose what matters to debate, and allow others their point of view. Most importantly, it’s not necessary to stand up and make everyone agree with the use of e-cigarettes and vaping, but it is important to let our lawmakers know why it matters to us. Make your point through facts and calm, respectful communication.
It seems as though this all comes down to fear of the unknown, and the known abuses of trust committed in the past by an industry with which we are incorrectly associated. The world seems so afraid of being duped by another round of Big Tobacco industry that they are missing the vital differences. Meaning that we as a community need to stand up and provide the information they need to see those differences. 4hb.com posted an article ***5 Ways to Influence Change in Others, which provides some great insight into communicating with those who are unwilling to see another side to what they have previously determined to be right. I won’t share all of the information with you here, but I did want to share this, “Regardless of our position, we become significantly more effective when we understand change and how to influence it in others. People don’t resist change; they resist being changed. If we want to help people change, we have to help them decide the change is in their best interest.” Which brings us to our last point, don’t disregard an argument against e-cigarettes and vaping. Listen to the basis of the argument, and respond with facts that provide an insight into that topic. People are more willing to listen if they feel they have been heard. While we may think a specific argument is silly, to them it matters. If we want them to consider a different point of view, we need to address areas that matter to them.
In summary, understand that the basis of much of the general public’s response to e-cigarettes and vaping is based in fear and lack of understanding. Don’t try to force them to change their minds, try listening to their concerns and addressing them in a respectful and fact-based manner. There will always be those who are unwilling to see a different perspective, so long as they don’t restrict the rights of others, that’s ok. We do not need to require conversion of everyone. However, when it comes to legislation, pick your battles and know your stuff. Why fight a legislation that requires childproofing the e-juice bottles when it doesn’t restrict our rights, but it does affect the safety of children? However, flavor choices have shown in studies and anecdotally to be a major part of the success of vapers getting off analogs, so that is a battle worth fighting. However, fighting that battle does not mean getting angry and throwing around abusive or inflammatory arguments. It means standing together, and as a community showing a face of positive education and information for something we believe in.
As always, I encourage everyone to educate themselves. Read the studies and information you see in the media, and learn more about the realities and misconceptions surrounding the subject. Never be afraid to ask questions, and remember, knowledge is power. Come back next week when we start a new series ‘Standing Together’. Until then, we look forward to your questions and comments. Vape on!
Written by: Michelle Harnden
*Prevent Disease.com ‘Fear of the Unknown is Creating Hysteria’
**Toastmasters International ‘Handling the Hostile Crowd’
***4Hb.com ‘5 Ways to Influence Change in Others’