Today, September 18, 2014, is World Vaping Day. We can think of no better way of celebrating World Vaping Day than by sharing our success stories with the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO is, to put it mildly, anti e-cigarette and has called for strict regulation of e-cigarettes, including a ban on e-cigarette use in public places. It sees e-cigarettes as challenging the core message of tobacco control and as a threat to WHO's goals of a tobacco-free world. WHO seems willing to embrace speculative and unsubstantiated concerns about e-cigarettes (including the increasingly discredited gateway theory, namely, that e-cigarette use will lead to non-smokers starting to smoke), but fails to give any weight to the fact that an ever-increasing number of people have quit smoking (or have substantially reduced their smoking) by using e-cigarettes.
According to the WHO, we are anecdotes.
And so today, on World Vaping Day, we are asking vapers from across the world to join together in sending a personal message to WHO. Tell your story and explain how e-cigarette use has changed your life. Let them know that we are real people, not anecdotes. (While this Call to Action is being released on World Vaping Day, it will continue indefinitely.)
Write a letter to the WHO telling them your personal story of using e-cigarettes. Consider including the following information:
- How long / How much did you smoke?
- Have you quit or significantly reduced your smoking due to e-cigarettes?
- Have you used government-approved quit products? How did that go?
- What are the benefits you have experienced since you started using e-cigarettes?
- Have you noticed an improvement in your health?
- If you use flavors, how has that helped you smoke less or stay smoke-free?
It is important that we let these people know that real human beings are behind these numbers. They need to understand that their misguided and ill-informed attempts to discourage e-cigarette use can cause real damage and pain to people.
Please keep in mind that the people you are writing to are real people, too. The institution of the WHO has a "mind" of its own, and appeals to evidence and personal triumph are not going to change it. But it is possible to change the mind of an individual human being, even one who is part of such an institution. Keep that in mind, that this is a personal message, from one real person who is not a mere "anecdote" to another real person who is not just a cog in a machine.
Do not write this as if you were lambasting an enemy, but rather that you are trying to persuade someone who is ultimately human. If you treat a person as an enemy, they will become your enemy. If you treat them as human -- even when their institution really is the enemy -- they might be open.
Tell them that the ability to use electronic cigarettes in public spaces will actually improve public health by inspiring other smokers to switch and reduce their health risks by an estimated 99%.
Tell them that a comprehensive review conducted by Dr. Igor Burstyn of Drexel University School of Public Health based on over 9,000 observations of e-cigarette liquid and vapor found "no apparent concern" for bystanders exposed to e-cigarette vapor, even under "worst case" assumptions about exposure.
Tell them that the low risks of e-cigarettes is supported by research done by Dr. Siegel of Boston University, Dr. Eissenberg of Virginia Commonwealth, Dr Maciej L Goniewicz of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Dr. Laugesen of Health New Zealand, Dr. Igor Burstyn of Drexel University, and by the fact that the FDA testing, in spite of its press statement, failed to find harmful levels of carcinogens or toxic levels of any chemical in the vapor.
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