An Interview with Spike: The National Vaper's Club
Part 1: Switching to Electronic Cigarettes | Part 2: National Vapers' Club | Part 3: Anti-Smoker and the Electronic Cigarette | Part 4: John Banzhaf | Part 5 The FDA and Electronic Cigarette Research | Part 6: Advice for Novices | Part 7: Mainstream Vaping
ECD: Tell me about the National Vaper's Club.
Spike: We started out as a small club.
There was a young boy about 22; he had just quit smoking - he had been smoking since he was 15.
He said to me, he said, “We should get some more people who vape to get together,” cause, you know, we call using an e-cigarette vaping, “You know we should get some more people together. I know someone.”
I said, “I know someone too. My friend that taught me how to vape and your friend that taught you how to vape and we’ll all have a little meeting,” you know.
So we got together and of course everybody who told someone else about vaping invited their friends and it grew and it grew and then we used online forums like e-cigarette forum to get more people in our area because when you’re on these online forums you put your location so we were able to contact people that said they were from New York and Long Island and we said we need to get together and strangely enough we were probably the first technical Vaper’s club and somehow it happened that we also were the first area where they tried to ban the use of e-cigarettes.
Since we already had our group together, I said, “Listen, you know what, we need to stop this we need to fight this, let’s find out about the legislative process. Let’s see how it works. Let’s see if we can, you know, go and argue and stop them from banning this because otherwise how are we gonna be able to get together and use our e-cigarette in a public place if we can’t vape in public?”
So there was, at that point, maybe 12 of us. This was in March of 2009 and, you know, there was only at least 3 or 4 people, a handful of us that would go to these meetings and speak and educate them about e-cigarettes and we had done a lot of research learning what was in the liquid, learning what happened but there, you have to remember, in March of 2009 there was not a lot of information so there was not as much for us to tell them.
Like we would say, no of course it’s safer, we knew that propelyne glycol was the same ingredient used in asthma inhalers and children’s Tylenol and fog machines and hospital sprays. We knew what propelyn glycol was used for so we went in and we said it can’t possibly be dangerous. People have been inhaling it for 70 years and they said, “Well, show us proof. We want proof.” And we said, “We don’t have proof.”
So I said, “You know what, we should raise some money and we should do a study so we have proof,” cause we’re tired of telling them that we have no proof. They ask us for proof, we have none. So we started having raffles at our little meetings when we get together everybody would chip for 5 dollars then we’d raffle off a prize, you know.
Something that somebody had that they weren’t going to use or something that someone donated or a vendor donated or a bunch of vendors donating prizes, and we would put that money together.
So we said, “You know what, we can’t have this money sitting in a little tin box, we need to go and get a bank account and have an official club.”
When we continued to fight for Long Island, then we stopped them from banning it completely but they did ban indoor use and that was in Suffolk county. There’s two county that are a part of Long Island and so in Suffolk county they banned indoor use, so we moved our club meetings to Nassau county just over the border, close to Suffolk county.
And we started, we said, “OK, let’s start New York City meetings.”
We had people from New Jersey and Connecticut that were coming to our Long Island meetings and saying it’s so far why don’t we have one in New York City? So we started a New York City chapter. At that point it just grew and grew and grew. We said, “Let’s have one in New Jersey,” and then we said, “Let’s have one in Connecticut, too.” And all of the sudden there were tons of vaper’s clubs and people were saying, “I want to do it. How do I start one?” So we were helping other people to start them.
And then there started a bunch of bans in different states in America. And we said we have this information, we’ve already fought a ban maybe not completely successfully but at least enough to not to get them to ban it completely.
So we provided information, in the form of online websites, and legislature packets with all those studies and the information that begun to compile over the year that we worked on this ban and we provided them to other states. And we taught people and educated people how they could fight the ban in their state. And when if it was possible, we used some of the money that we raised for us to go to the other states and speak, like we drove to New Jersey and we spoke to senators there to try and try to get them to prevent the ban there. And again we were not successful in stopping the indoor use ban. We were successful in stopping a complete ban.
So, you know, it was one step but not the whole thing, so again you can’t have indoor use in New Jersey. So, at that point, we said, “You know what, this is gonna become national. We have to make a national club where the money is used for all of the state.”
It’s not fair for California to get banned just because, you know, we can’t help them, so we made National Vaper’s club. And at that point we said, “OK we’re going to collect all of this money and instead of us going in and talking to the legislators and saying, ‘Oh, we have no proof, oh, sorry we have no proof,’ we’re going to get proof.” We are going to raise enough money to get proof.
So National Vaper’s club has contracted a lab to do some research and, you know, we’re trying to raise money for our research. At this point we need another fifty thousand dollars or so. We have a lot of vendors put in a lot of money. It was seventy six thousand.
We’ve had vendors put in significant amounts of money and we truly appreciate everybody’s involvement but what we really need is we need every vendor to contribute a small amount so that we can get this done. And the study will help everyone. It will help everyone that sells products, everyone that vapes, everyone that will vape someday. And it is something that absolutely needs to be done.