Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Letter to Youth Fighting the Tobacco Wars

Dear Young Activists,

First, I want to congratulate you on finding a cause you believe in and standing up and fighting for what you believe is right. More people in our country need to do that! You are learning skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life, and that is always a good thing.

Yesterday was #IKickButts day. Youth from around the world spoke up to #EndIt and be the first smoke-free generation! They learned about and taught their peers about the dangers of tobacco use. They pledged to never smoke. It’s a wonderful thing to see a generation of young people push and advocate to make a healthier choice than all the generations before them. You guys rock and I hope you not only stick to your pledge to never smoke, I hope you encourage many others to never smoke or to give up smoking.

The cold hard fact is, smoking kills. It kills the smoker and it kills the people around them.

There are many things in life that are “adult”. Feeding your family, paying rent, drinking, sex, serving in the military, voting, being on a jury are all examples of “adult” things. As young people, it is very normal to want to be treated like an adult. “Adulting” sounds like such a cool thing to do. Sometimes it is cool, making our own choices, following our dreams. The heavy burden of “adulting” can suck at times, it’s more responsibility than we ever imagined.

There is a whole new technology out there that was invented to be the consumer solution to the tobacco problem. For some people, it helps them quit smoking. It was never meant to be a “cool” thing. Sometimes, it’s just human nature to make things bigger, more powerful, faster, etc. Seems like humans can turn anything into a competition. This new technology was meant for adults and millions of adults around the world have used this new technology and have succeeded at quitting smoking. This new technology is often called Vapor Technology, E-cigs, or Ends (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems).

Vapor Technology is an adult product. It’s not meant for kids. I realize that there are always going to be kids that feel the need to break the rules and try “adult” things. I'm reaching out to the youth of the world and asking - no, I'm BEGGING - you to please NOT vape. Don’t put stuff that you don’t need into your body when your body is still growing and developing (yes, in all honesty, I’m also asking you not to smoke, do drugs, drink, etc.). I mention vape specifically because your desire to try an “adult” thing, be it curiosity, the need to experiment, the thrill of breaking the rules, or because you think you look cool is having severe unintended consequences. People who care about youth are very concerned about those of you who choose to vape, even if you vape zero nicotine liquids.

I get people getting concerned. I’m a Mom. I am blessed to a fault with what I call “Momma Bear Syndrome”. Momma bears are very protective and when I see a young person in danger or not treated right, I get angry and my Momma Bear urges go into full swing. There are men  and women all over the world who also have Momma Bear Syndrome. When they see youth doing things that youth shouldn’t do, they feel the need to protect those youth. It is the adult thing to do to protect youth.



Now we’ve come upon a problem between youth experimentation, Momma Bears, and the need to save adult lives, and the lives of anyone exposed to 2nd hand smoke. When young people choose to break the rules and vape, the Momma Bears feel the need to stop them. So Momma Bears are out trying to change the definition of this product that contains no tobacco to the classification of a tobacco product. They are trying to tax it, ban it, and over regulate it. In essence, they are trying to get rid of the entire vapor industry. Your need to experiment could cost people their lives. Many adults have failed over and over to quit smoking. Many adults are finally succeeding at quitting by using vapor technology. We all know if people don’t smoke, lives will be saved.

Do you know any smokers? Do you want to see them quit? Do you want to see them live a long, healthy life? Do you still want the rest of us to treat you like an adult and let you make your own choices? Fine, here’s your first choice to make…



You can choose to NOT vape and do the right thing for your body and have the Momma Bear’s go back to worrying about other things.

OR………

You can choose TO vape, help get it banned or taxed so high it’s cheaper to smoke. You can be part of the snowball that ends up having more people die because they didn’t quit smoking.

Doing something you perceive to be “cool” or doing something to avoid unintended consequences and having a life saving technology taken away from the people who need it.

1st rule of being a responsible adult - it’s not always about you. Sometimes, you need to make choices for the betterment of others. Your choice will prove to me just how “adult” you are capable of being. Make me proud.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I'd Like To Kick A Few Butts

3/15/2017



Happy #IKickButts Day! A day where our youth are encouraged to not smoke and to take a stand against "Big Tobacco". Kid's, you should listen....

Don't Smoke!!!

While we're on a butt kicking theme, this great-grandma would also like to kick some butts. You see, at 58 years old, I'm the OLDEST person in my Mom's family. All who came before me are gone, most of them smoked or had lives filled with second hand smoke. Smoking has even tried to take out younger members of my family. My son had a heart attack at 29 years old, thanks to smoking.

I quit smoking 2 years ago. I smoked for over 40 years & tried to quit smoking on and off for over 20 years, yes twenty years. I tried every method known to man. Those recommended by my doctor, by the FDA, by google, by friends, by quit lines, I've been hypnotized, criticized, chastised, and baptized with the hate and lack of compassion of the anti-tobacco community. I've tried patches, gum, lozenges, cold turkey, sucking candy, praying, medications, talking, and anything else I could think of. For over 20 years, I was a failure and at each failure, I became less motivated to quit, because I really believed I couldn't quit. 

You'd think that now that I'm an ex-smoker, the anti-tobacco community would embrace me, congratulate me, use me as the old lady poster child to prove anyone can quit. Alas, they look the other way, I am still scorned and hated. I'm still not good enough for them. I advocate heavily for people to quit smoking. You'd think the anti-tobacco community, all those health organizations and public health zealots and I would now be on the same team, out to save #ABillionLives who will die in the next century from smoking.


But here I sit, alone. Nothing more than a leper in the anti-tobacco community. To them, I'm worthless, I am an embarrassment to them. They like to call me names. Accuse this toothless old lady of being big tobacco, accuse people like me of marketing to children, and say I'm doing nothing more than making a buck and trying to addict the next generation to smoking!

What horrendous "sin" have I committed to be looked down upon by the Anti-Tobacco Community? I'm a vaper. I used an e-cig to help me quit 
smoking. That is my crime.

So, dear Anti-Tobacco people, I'd really like to kick YOUR butt. I'd like to call you out right here and now for making a huge mistake that could cost millions, maybe even a billion people their lives. I am NOT big tobacco, the work I do I do for FREE so I'm obviously not trying to make a buck, I want to not only SAVE children from smoking / tobacco, - I want to save all the adults in their lives, so that kids can grow up with extended / active / and healthy families.

I am a mixologist. I create and make e-liquid for a very small company. It is my son's company, the son that almost died from a heart attack 3 years ago. He quit smoking and he helped me quit smoking. And now we both work 7 days a week to help others quit smoking. I refuse a paycheck for these efforts. I have a job I work at overnight, so do not need a paycheck for trying to save lives. I have created several flavors in the past 2 years. I've given careful thought and consideration to what would appeal to the adult customers that buy my son's liquids at their local vape shops.  It has never crossed my mind to consider a flavor that would appeal to a child. When the ANTZ (Anti-Nicotine-Tobacco-Zealots) accuse me of creating flavors to market to a child, I am deeply insulted. How dare you pervert my efforts to save lives into some evil plot where you try to make it sound like I'm trying to destroy lives? My efforts to save lives has given me the opportunity to meet hundreds of others trying to do the same thing. We make liquids, we sell equipment, we give people hope that they can quit smoking just like all of us did. We know, vaping is NOT smoking. We know we are saving lives. 

How many more lives could YOU save, if you joined our team instead of lying and treating us like we are the enemy? I'd so much rather be working for the same cause, instead of sitting here feeling the need to kick YOUR butt.


#IKickButts

Thursday, May 19, 2016

10 Advocacy Ideas for Vape Businesses




As a person who spends a lot of time in a shop, I am often amazed at how many shops and customers do not participate when the need for advocates arise. At first this frustrated me, until I realized that a lot of people don't know how to advocate, or what to do, or even that something needs to be done. If we want to encourage advocacy, we must teach others how to be advocates, make sure we are communicating that there is a need for advocacy, and then make it quick and easy to complete advocacy tasks.

Businesses in the vaping industry can help get the advocacy ball rolling by making their customers aware of when action needs to be taken. They can put information and calls to action on their websites. They can include flyers in shipments. They can share info via social media, or tell customers about current events when speaking face to face with them. They can also use the tools they use to market their businesses as a tool to reach out to customers - text, email, or rewards programs with messages like 5 stars, can all be used to send out a Call To Action to consumers.

Momma Vape would like to encourage all members of the vaping industry to be a trend setter, be a leader and teach by example. Put together an advocacy action plan and get ready to arm your local army with the resources they need to become advocacy ninjas. I'll share some ideas below. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

Idea #1 - Reaching Out To Smokers!

Most of us started vaping as a tool to help us quit smoking. Let's remember we advocate, not to have cloud comps but to preserve our right to vape, to keep us from returning to smoking, and to preserve the right to vape for all those smokers out there who need our help so they can quit smoking. We advocate because we believe that vaping saves lives!

As members of the vaping community, let's make sure we have employees who are good with people, who are knowledgeable about vaping, who are good teachers and excellent cheerleaders. Even though we'd like to send each new customer out the door with a fancy $200 setup, let's remember that most newbies to vaping are going to start with a basic starter set. Let's keep those batteries charged so we can send the soon to be ex-smoker out the door vaping, ready to take on this new challenge in their lives. Let's send them out motivated to quit and motivated to join us in our efforts to help more people quit. Let's make sure we teach them all about safety so we don't see them on the 6 o'clock news as a "vaping victim".


Batteries charging for a quit smoking event

Let's keep those new vapers motivated to keep vaping. Start a quit smoking program, do a free starter set if they throw away their cigarettes at your shop. Sign them up for a daily e-mail that offers encouragement / ideas. Recognize their quit smoking date!


#IMPROOF wall at Infinite Vapor. Each customer grabs a sticker
and puts their name and quit day on it.


Help your customers celebrate their Vapeversaries!

Welcome vaping newbies into the vape family. Make them feel a part of the community. Make them comfortable so they come back and ask questions. Each person who quits smoking is potentially another life saved. Running a vape business is much more than just making a buck!

Want to do more? Check out Sponsor A Smoker - you can find them (click here) on facebook.
Another great organization is Vape A Vet.

These programs can use your donations! 


Idea #2 - Be a Team Player In YOUR Community!

A great way to be an advocate for vaping is to be an ambassador for the vaping community. Participate in community events and fundraisers. Remember that the other shops in your area are your competitors, not your enemy. There are going to be times when you will need to work WITH the other shops. It is great PR for the shops to work together for a fund raiser or to gather petition signatures to fight a local ordinance.


Fundraiser in MN to help victims of a huge storm



4 shops worked together to fight a local anti-vaping ordinance


Be polite about where you vape and where you blow your vapor. Encourage your customers to be polite vapers. Sure, it may be LEGAL for you to vape in certain area businesses, but that doesn't mean you always SHOULD - or that you should blow a big cloud around a family who is not vaping. As an ambassador, don't be bad mouthing other vape businesses. If a customer needs something you don't have, help them find what they need - work to keep them vaping so they don't go back to smoking.


Idea # 3 - Put It In Writing!


Start a letter writing campaign. In this day and age of electronics, we often forget the impact that a hand written letter can make. A mountain of papers to touch and file is a bigger visual than an inbox full of e-mails. Make a basic form with space for customers to write in their own comments and room to include their name, address, phone number & e-mail. If you make a generic form and save it, when an issue comes to your attention, you can quickly edit it to pertain to the issue at hand (city / county ordinance, a bill at the state or federal level), print them off and you're ready to go. Some customers will wonder why they need to include their personal information, and the reason is to prove it is a real letter from a real person (who is hopefully a registered voter). A great example of this is the project chronicled by Fig Ramsey and the fine folks at Feels Good Vapor in Oceanside, California. It began with one customer agreeing to sit down for a minute and express a few thoughts against lots of nasty bills in the 2015 California Special Session....


Photo by Fig Ramsey - 2015 California Special Session


It became over 50 letters in a day....


Photo by Fig Ramsey - 2015 California Special Session


And grew to a table PILED with letters in a few days!...


Photo by Fig Ramsey - 2015 California Special Session

That is a beautiful sight to see!!!!! They then rallied the troops to start stuffing envelopes and found they could fit about 80 letters per envelope. A trip to the post office and they over nighted their bounty. Look at all the envelopes. WOW, that is some Kick Ass advocating in Momma Vape's book!!!!!


Photo by Fig Ramsey - 2015 California Special Session

Other shops in California followed the lead. It wouldn't surprise me if they set a record for number of letters sent to the California capitol on a single issue. I nominate these folks to be inducted into the Vaping Advocacy Rock Star Hall of Fame!

In the little hick town that Momma Vape lives in, we don't have as many people that vape as how many wrote letters in this shop in Cali. But that's OK, every letter matters, and we will follow the example of these California Advocates when Minnesota goes back in session in 2016, if they introduce any bills with anti-vaping language.

Idea # 4 - Set Up a Kiosk / Command Center




Make it EASY for your customers to participate in advocacy efforts. When there is a Call To Action, have a computer / tablet available so they can complete the call to action right at your shop. By having them complete the call to action before leaving the shop, MORE people will complete them. People are busy, they forget.

Have advocacy videos playing on a TV in the shop to help educate people.

Have flyers at your point of sale area and hand one to each customer. Talk to them, educate them. If you google QR Code generator, you can put a QR code right on your flyers for customers to scan and complete Calls To Action.  Share your flyers with area shops, put them online so others can print them. Many advocacy groups have flyers and brochures you can order. Some also have files you can download and print your own.

"Decorate" your walls with advocacy materials.


Smokeless Smoking - May 2016
CASAA poster and countdown to the FDA Deeming Regs starting


Idea # 5 - Use The Internet


Use profile pictures on facebook, twitter, google +, etc. to promote a pro-vaping message, or something advocacy related. Encourage others to use the picture, too.


Photo By Fig Ramsey - 2015 California Special Session



Having a sale? Use the banner space on your facebook page  (or other sites) to not only promote your sale, but to promote advocacy or quitting smoking.




Many of you use facebook, twitter, instagram, e-mails, and websites as a way to market your companies. It is also a great way to "market advocacy". They make valuable tools to get the word out to customers and make them aware that their help is needed. Online resources can help us educate our customers about not only advocacy, but safety, new studies and other interesting things that can help our customers become more informed consumers.

Some businesses are afraid to push advocacy. Momma Vape encourages them to think about this. If our industry dies, our future customers die, our businesses die. We must fight to be able to do what we do, and the more soldiers in our army, the better chance of winning the war.

Idea # 6 - Host an "Event"


Register to vote campaign
Fundraiser for an Advocacy organization
Letters to the editor campaign
Advocacy Day
Advocacy Speaker
Petition Signing
Call To Action
Submit Testimonials to CASAA
"Bump It Up For Advocacy" offer to round up each sale to the next even $$ and
               donate the spare change to an advocacy organization
Have a sale as a way to get customers in the door to participate in an advocacy activity

Idea # 7 - Hand out Promotional Materials


Bumper stickers
Tshirts
Stickers
Buttons
Signs


Jan 2016 - Baxter, MN
A group of advocates at a city council meeting wearing Vaping Advocacy T-shirts



Idea # 8 - Online businesses


Businesses who sell online are also very important to advocacy. They can use their websites to share information. They can enclose flyers in each package they mail out. Their sales people should be up to date on current vaping issues so they can talk about advocacy with customers.





Photo Courtesy of Chase Richardson / 88Vapor.net


Idea # 9 - Keep your eyes and ears open


Put together some type of online document that lists businesses and consumers willing to help with advocacy issues for each county / city in your state. These groups are responsible for monitoring City / county agendas to watch for vaping on the agenda of meetings. They should be willing to attend meetings, help communicate to others when something is on the agenda, etc.

Idea # 10 - Advocate Every Day - Join & Donate

Get in the habit of doing an advocacy activity every day. Read, learn, share, and educate. Be a team player and teach by example. Invite vendors, competitors, consumers, and the public to join you in your efforts.

Join advocacy organizations - both trade and consumer. Yes, some require dues to be a member. Find one you can stand behind. New or very small business and dues are not yet affordable? Then do what you can. Work up to a membership. Set goals, any day you do over $X you donate ___%. Volunteer to help organizations. Lobbyists, lawyers, websites, travel, etc. are not cheap. These groups can not do what they do without financial support. Give what you can, it will make a difference!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Looking the other way will not make the challenges our industry faces go away. We need to get off our duffs and be involved advocates if our industry wants to see a bright future! Please feel free to share your advocacy ideas. 

~ Momma Vape

P.S. - Hopefully someday soon a movie called "A Billion Lives" will be available for viewing and we can all add watching the movie together to the activity list! A Billion Lives on Facebook
#ABillionLives





Wednesday, October 28, 2015

TODAY! period

Just do it TODAY!
Call the White House & do CASAA's CTA to support HR2058. Today! The antivapers will be calling - are you going to take their shit trying to take your vape away, or are you going to dial that phone and FIGHT BACK? Tired of reading info? Click the link and LISTEN.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_2g5rPY9Yo

It is time to put up or shut up. Fight today - it will help save vaping as we know it!

Mom Said!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Back to Basics - Helping Smokers Quit

I was just reading "How Vapers Can Help Smokers Quit" (click here), an interesting 3 page gem on Forbes that talks about a survey of people who have tried vaping, how many of them are or were smokers and what kind of success they are experiencing with quitting smoking. The piece moves on to talk about what a valuable asset vapers are when it comes to reaching out to the smoking community and establishing a buddy system of vapers with smokers so that smokers get the support and expertise they need to become ex-smokers.

I'm happy to see shops and individuals reaching out to smokers, getting them set up with good equipment, advice, and support. No matter where we personally are at with our vaping, if our vape is a pen type or a cloud machine - if we vape to keep ourselves from smoking or if we've moved on to vaping as a hobby, we need to remember that the most important reason for vaping to exist is to be a tool that smokers can use to help themselves quit smoking, to reduce the level of harm they are doing to themselves and those around them, and to become healthier.

My hat is off to those shops and individuals who are helping people quit smoking. You are saving lives! I am glad to see organizations out there who's sole purpose is to help people start vaping so they can begin the journey that leads to being an ex-smoker. I'll leave you with a couple of groups to check out. They can use your support. You can help tell others about them or donate to the cause or sign up to help others.




You can find Sponsor A Smoker (click here) on facebook. If you need help getting started with vaping or if you'd like to help, click the Sign Up button at the top of their page and get yourself or your shop registered.



For those of you who are in the United States Military or are a Veteran (or who wants to help our Veterans quit smoking) Check out Vape A Vet on facebook (click here) or go to the Vape A Vet website (click here).

 Let's get back to basics and start changing the world...... one saved life at a time.
~ Momma Vape

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Momma Vape's Birthday Wish



Sat Oct 3
It is Momma Vape's Birthday today. I promise no houses were lost due to the fire created by massive amounts of birthday candles that almost squished Momma's cake! Today I have a request for what I'd like for my birthday and it won't cost you a dime! I'd like each and every one of you to make sure you are a member of an advocacy organization. If you haven't signed up at CASAA, it is a great place to start!
http://casaa.org/Become_a_Member.html

If you'd like to suggest your favorite advocacy group, please post your favorites in the comments below.

Have a great day!
~ Momma Vape

Thursday, October 1, 2015

CASAA Needs Your Story!

Thursday Oct 1
TELL YOUR STORY!
Please submit your testimonial to CASAA
http://testimonials.casaa.org/

Thank-you!
~ Momma Vape