A guest post by Steve from Steve’s Vaping World
Electronic cigarettes share a number of similarities with consumer electronics besides rechargeable batteries. Some say e-cigarettes are more complicated than traditional cigarettes requiring a little bit more dedication on the part of the user. Learning curves are common in many areas of technology. The amount of dedication required of e-cigarette users goes way beyond having to learn how to actually use the devices.
However, electronic cigarettes are unique in the field of technology in one aspect. I cannot think of a single pice of technology that required the average user to become politically active to keep a product on the market, or even to use the product as intended.
Why fight for consumer technology?
You never hear about anyone writing to his or her elected representative to ask that their favorite microwave oven not be banned from import. Nobody has had to try and explain how their life was made so much better because they were able to switch from VHS tapes to DVDs.
To raise the stakes a little bit, nobody to my knowledge has been killed by VHS tapes. Could you imagine the outcry if analog cell phones were found to emit dangerous levels of radiation while new low-radiation digital phones were kept off the market for some arbitrary reason?
Yet, this is exactly what is happening in many locations with e-cigarettes. The old technology continues to exist despite being a known killer. A new technology comes onto the market that promises to be less deadly and perform better than the original. Rather than welcoming the new technology every obstacle imaginable has been put in its way.
A new technology having to fight for acceptance in the marketplace isn’t exactly unusual. It happens all the time. Competing formats are released on a regular basis. For example the war that broke out between Betamax and VHS, or the more recent format wars between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are just two examples of many.
These battles, however, take place somewhat behind the scenes and in marketing departments. Consumer involvement is limited to either being an early adopter, picking one of the technologies and hoping for the best or simply waiting it out to see who will win the battle.
Most consumers choose the latter path rather than running the risk of throwing their hard-earned cash down on a losing contender. The smaller subset of users, the early adopters tend to be much more active in their activities surrounding a product. These consumers tend to talk about the products on message boards, or blogs and evangelize whichever product.
Even the consumers who are the most vocal about a product generally do not need to write a politician to further their cause. That’s where e-cigarette technology departs from most other forms of technologies.
Not only do the super fans of the devices have to do more to make their product more successful, average consumers also need to defend their product. Whether the threat is overreaching local smoking ordinances or entire national agencies attempting to outlaw the electronic cigarette, it is grass roots movements that have been the most effective in keeping e-cigarettes off more black lists.
For grass roots movements to be effective, there has to be a sizable base of constituents to affect real change. This is why just early adopters getting more active is not effective in the fight to keep e-cigarettes out in the open.
As of now, the people who are fighting for e-cigarettes are still a small majority of the larger base of consumers (estimates are currently at 2.5 million users in the US). If 2.5 million people wrote their senators, the debate in the US over the devices would end quickly.
(ED: Here in the UK we are more lucky, with support from the UK gov nudge unit.)
A Worthy Battle
Despite the number of people actually being active to protect their safer alternative to smoking being much lower, many efforts have been successful. This seems to indicate that more than just the rabid fans of the devices are doing something about the unstable situation.
The fact that they are fighting means something. How many people would bother to become activists just to keep a specific gaming console or any other technology on the market? Yet when it comes to e-cigarette technology, that is exactly what people are doing.
It means that people truly believe in the concept behind e-cigarettes. It means that people genuinely believe that these devices have the potential to get people off of traditional cigarettes. For many people, e-cigarettes are literally a matter of life or death.
And that is worth fighting for.
Want to fight the good fight? Check out the following organisations which lobby on behalf of e-cig users and/or retailers: