Sure, anti-vaping campaigners and their efforts to undermine e-cig use have been around, well, for as long as e-cigs have and it seems that, over the past year or so, their shameless efforts to drive down vaping as a far healthier alternative to tobacco smoking have only intensified. Yet in Canada’s most populace province it’s emerged that vaping enthusiasts and vape shop owners have come together to unite against the latest campaign – one that appears to be backed by the nation’s tobacco lobby – to turn the tide in favour of vapers.

Last month, the Vapor Advocates of Ontario (VAO), a grassroots advocacy group whose numbers are made up of consumers and local business owners, publicly announced it thoroughly rejected and condemned a campaign backed (or, rather, fronted) by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA). This campaign looks to ensure that differentiation between conventional cigarettes and far-lower-risk e-cigs isn’t recognised by law – effectively ensuring that e-cigs couldn’t be sold as a competitive alternative to cigarettes.

The VAO declared it was ‘angered by [the] cynical move to lobby Ontario to make it less likely cigarette smokers will get the assistance necessary to quit smoking’. It’s a move that, it points out, comes in spite of that fact Health Canada, the national government’s health department, claims smoking effectively claims 100 lives a day in the country, while the UK’s Royal College of Physicians states vaping via e-cigs and vape liquid is at least 95 percent less dangerous to one’s health than smoking.

It matters – for all vapers

Now, it may well be true that in North America vaping and its enthusiasts are, right now, facing a greater uphill struggle to see e-cigs receive the legitimacy they deserve than their counterparts in the UK, but for vapers wherever they hail from this is heartening news, indeed. And that’s because we no longer live in a world defined most of all by borders; we live in the digital world, where not only can products be sold online throughout the globe, but also rumour, innuendo, falsehoods and malicious and cynical propaganda – in this instance driven by big tobacco to keep the status quo tipped in its health-threatening favour and against the health-benefitting efforts of e-cig manufacturers, vape shops and vapers – can spread across the planet like wildfire. In short, vaping enthusiasts must be vigilant in the face of those trying to legally stack the deck against e-cigarettes to maintain sales (and thereby deaths caused by) conventional cigarettes – so, no question, the efforts of the VAO are to be applauded.

Indeed, Maria Duic, a spokesperson for the VAO, pointed out just how cynical the OCSA’s campaign was by pointing out that not only is it funded by tobacco companies, but also that it effectively copied her own organisation’s campaign of 2016 ( by ‘flipping the message’ – and so advocating for Ontario regulations that, although designed to reduce smoking, would force vaping products (e-cigs, vape juice and more) to be deemed legally no different to conventional cigarettes, offering vendors no opportunity to educate consumers on how the two are indeed quite different; how one is far better for your health and how the other might end up killing you.

A movement moving forward

Admirably, in going on to make her case, Duic stated: “[The OCSA] are simply advocates for cigarette consumption, and are brazen in their attempt to put profits from the sale of cigarettes over the proven harm reduction strategy of vaping … The VAO movement is moving forward with efforts to advocate for fair regulations to help the more than 1 million Ontario smokers on a path towards a smoke-free future. VAO believes in Smoke-Free Ontario and promotes regulations aimed at facilitating smokers in reducing their risks”.

And, don’t doubt it, the VAO’s efforts aren’t half-baked; they’ve got the world of academia on their side, backing up their arguments with experienced, professional clarity and – if it comes to it, no doubt – scientific fact. For instance, on behalf of the group, David Sweanor, a local public health advocate and Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, added: “any effort to treat cigarettes no differently from massively less hazardous alternatives like vaping protects the cigarette business rather than public health. It is akin to whiskey distillers wanting orange juice to be subjected to identical regulations”.

Surely, with arguments made as well as that, advocacy groups such as the VAO stand more than a fighting chance as they fight the good fight against anti-vapers. Watch this space; this is only the beginning…!

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