Standard response to anti-vaping articles? Draft, need feedback
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  1. #1
    Ultra Member Supporting Member Roger_Lafayette's Avatar
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    Default Standard response to anti-vaping articles? Draft, need feedback

    Just joined CASAA as a regional rep. and made a small donation. As some of you may have noticed, I'm now posting twice-daily news links in the Media area (not that I have any official status, but I figured I'd make it systematic).

    The "hit job" articles all strike me as being fairly "cookie-cutter" (boilerplate) in their contents. They generally come from small local media outlets and are usually written by cub reporters who might make the usual cursory investigation, and/or call their local state health orgs, and/or the American Cancer Society and/or the American Lung ...'n, and/or visit no-smoke DOT org's e-cigg page.

    That's why these articles all look pretty much the same. For example the diethelyne glycol thing that we hear over and over. (By contrast, generally the pieces in the national outlets like NYT and WaPo are much more nuanced, balanced, and better-researched.)

    So doesn't it make sense that CASAA should have a standard response? I.e. that something that local vapers can cut-and-paste out, and put either in a post or in a letter to the editor, with very few changes. (Local papers and outlets will rarely publish a response from someone who has never lived in the area, unless they're credentialed. And a personal perspective always increases the chances that a letter to the editor or a comment will be published.)

    The length should be no more than 250 words, which is a standard maximum for a letter to the editor.

    (And perhaps a longer version should exist with links, etc. - there's only so much that one can do in 250 words. That's why the phrasing may appear abrupt or awkward in places.)

    In another thread, sonicds suggested that CASAA has such an animal on its web site, but I haven't been able to find it. So I wrote my own ... comments?

    Note: There's one change that would need to be made by someone sending it out, in the first line. It's pretty hard to miss. I've also used underscores for italics, so it could be sent out in plain text. It could also be used as the basis for a petition.

    ***

    Since they've helped me quit [reduce] smoking, I read your article on e-cigarettes with interest.

    We call them _Personal Vaporizers_ (PVs) because they have little more in common with "cigarettes" than an "air guitar" does with guitars. Vaping is _not_ smoking because _vapor_ is not _smoke_, as cooks know.

    The vaporized liquid ("e-liquid") contains vegetable glycerin (VG). VG vapor can arise from making pasta sauce. Some e-liquids contain artificial fog (propelyne glycol or PG). PG is FDA-approved for food, and asthma inhalers.

    Not all e-liquids contain nicotine. Nicotine in PVs is no more dangerous nor addictive than caffeine in coffee (and less than sugar in food). Nicotine _is_ dangerous for a few, as are peanuts. No one has overdosed on nicotine from PVs, although it's possible (ditto water).

    E-liquid doesn't contain diethelyne glycol, any more than salad contains salmonella. (Just one study of Chinese-made e-liquids found this.) Vapers support prohibiting contamination.

    PVs _aren't_ marketed to kids. Vapers support banning sale to minors. Some e-liquids contain flavors children like, just as alcoholic spirts do.

    Smoking is a "gateway" to vaping - _not_ vice-versa. Virtually all vapers have been smokers, and vape to quit or reduce smoking.

    A growing body of groups such as the National Drug Policy Alliance and the American Association of Public Health Physicians support vaping as an alternative for smokers who can't quit or cut down.

    "Punishing" vapers through taxation, regulation and fear-mongering will yield more smoking, less vaping and higher societal costs.
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    Senior Member* ECF Veteran cmknight's Avatar
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    The study of Chinese made e-liquids was not really a study at all. The two companies were involved in a lawsuit with the FDA, so the FDA decided to test their products, and publish the results.

  3. #3
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    It's not practical to have a standard "Letter to the Editor."

    1) To be published, a Letter to the Editor needs to tie in to a recently published piece in the paper.
    2) Most papers prefer to have exclusive rights to that content.

    For example, this is from the Washington Post.
    What are the guidelines for letter submissions?

    We prefer letters that are fewer than 200 words and take as their starting point an article or other item appearing in The Post. They may not have been submitted to, posted to or published by any other media. They must include the writer's full name -- anonymous letters and letters written under pseudonyms will not be considered. For verification purposes, they must also include the writer's home address, e-mail address and telephone numbers. Writers should disclose any personal or financial interest in the subject matter of their letters. If sending e-mail, please put the text of the letter in the body and do not send attachments -- they will not be read.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...7IlN_blog.html

    Letters to the Editor work best if they stick to the points that were made in the offending article. Sometimes, there are so many wrong things in an article that it is only possible to refute a few of them, so figure out which are the most damaging ideas that were planted, and refute those.

    But before you start letter writing, learn all you can about the issues and the history. We want to a avoid adding to any of the misinformation out there. For example, the diethylene glycol problem was not caused by the fact that the liquid was made in China. At the time (2009), all liquids were made in China. And today, most liquids are still made in China.

    You'll find some useful information here: Electronic Cigarette FAQS
    and here: http://casaa.org/uploads/CASAA-Ecig-...d-Brochure.pdf

    If you page through some of the posts at the Anti-THR Lies blog, you'll find some very detailed scientific information regarding such issues as youth "use" of e-cigarettes. There is a search feature that let's you look for key words such as "FDA" and "CDC". http://antithrlies.com/

    I did a rather detailed explanation of the background behind that "antifreeze" and the "carcinogens" thing that we see popping up continuously. Excellent balanced HuffPo article 1/9/14 - interesting FDA comments

    I hope you find these helpful.


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    Roger, I got your PM. You have some great experience - it just takes a little while to get up to speed and figure out all of the nuances of this particular issue.

    We hope you will come to the webinar Member Meeting this Sunday! Register free here: CASAA Member Meetings

    (The registration URL on that page is wonky. The correct one is https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/183821846)
    Last edited by kristin; 01-23-2014 at 02:03 PM.
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    Ultra Member Supporting Member Roger_Lafayette's Avatar
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    Vocalek, the paragraphs in my draft reflect the most typical allegations made in these short boilerplate "hit job" articles. I suspect that if you created a grid in which each column supported one of these allegations, put in one row for each of these articles, and then marked an "X" in each box whenever the article made the allegation, then you'd find yourself with a grid filled with Xs This has to do with the manner in which these articles are produced (as I described). So naturally the content tends to be rather consistent.

    I wasn't suggesting that people just send something like that out without reference to a particular article (see the first sentence in which I have space for the date). And you'll notice that the first sentence makes reference to the personal experience of the sender. So we're in agreement there.

    Also, the small local papers that tend to publish them probably aren't going to worry about the "exclusive rights" issue - it's publications like WaPo which do a much better job of being careful about what they publish (both w.r.t. pieces and letters).

    You are obviously well-educated, and your writing suggests that you have a scientific background. This is clearly a useful and important way to communicate (after all, that's how good science gets done!), but there are other approaches. As I've said before, those opposed to vaping seem to do a particularly good job of effciently compressing their fallacious arguments into elegant sound bites.

    In other words they're a whole lot better at "messaging" than we are, and they have the built-in advantage that goes with the public's conflation of tobacco burning with vaping (after all they both involve the use of cigarettes, right?)

    Consider the difference between saying "an inheritance tax is unfair because the government has already taxed the income once" versus "death tax." The latter makes no argument as such - but it hits the reader emotionally in a way that requires little reflection (how dare the government tax death??). Which one has more impact? To me, the first has more impact because it makes a logical point. But the latter has proven to be more effective in the arena of public discourse. And ultimately that's what often shapes public policy.

    Unless (and until) we can respond with compact and memorable refutations, we run the risk of ending up with the short end of the stick in public discourse. And if we want people in the same geographical areas as these news outlets to reply to these "hit job" stories, we can't anticipate that they have the background, the patience, or the time to spend pouring through paragraph after paragraph of citations and footnotes. As I also mentioned, these publications aren't likely to publish feedback from someone who has never lived in their region.

    If our side is silent, we increase the risk that more and more states and local jurisdictions will pass draconion statutes and ordinances based on junk science and/or fallacious reasoning. (My favorite recent example of this is the fact that minors are allegedly taking up vaping in droves. In fact, this is simply a consequence of the fact that more adults are vaping. Any "adult" activity is going to be mimicked by a certain number of minors, no matter how hard it might be for the minors to do so. That's what kids do. But it doesn't necessarily mean that this activity should be prohibited or punitively regulated and taxed.)

    That's why I support CASAA's decision to create a pamphlet which might be an updated version of http://casaa.org/uploads/8_Biggest_E...ette_Myths.pdf

    P.S.: I didn't say that the EG issue was caused by the fact that the e-liquid was made in China. I simply referenced that for rhetorical impact.
    Last edited by Roger_Lafayette; 01-23-2014 at 05:46 PM.
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    PV Master ECF Veteran Jman8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger_Lafayette View Post
    The "hit job" articles all strike me as being fairly "cookie-cutter" (boilerplate) in their contents. They generally come from small local media outlets and are usually written by cub reporters who might make the usual cursory investigation, and/or call their local state health orgs, and/or the American Cancer Society and/or the American Lung ...'n, and/or visit no-smoke DOT org's e-cigg page.

    That's why these articles all look pretty much the same. For example the diethelyne glycol thing that we hear over and over. (By contrast, generally the pieces in the national outlets like NYT and WaPo are much more nuanced, balanced, and better-researched.)

    So doesn't it make sense that CASAA should have a standard response? I.e. that something that local vapers can cut-and-paste out, and put either in a post or in a letter to the editor, with very few changes. (Local papers and outlets will rarely publish a response from someone who has never lived in the area, unless they're credentialed. And a personal perspective always increases the chances that a letter to the editor or a comment will be published.)
    Regarding the bolded part - yes, it makes a lot of sense. Especially now. A standard and consistent response, while also having the other responses we all have in the pipeline; the ones that are not boilerplate. But the standardized version equips us, as a group, to send off rapid responses that are designed to frame the narrative and tell the story over and over again from our perspective, in a version that as you say is put in short form (250 words or less).

    So I wrote my own ... comments?

    Note: There's one change that would need to be made by someone sending it out, in the first line. It's pretty hard to miss. I've also used underscores for italics, so it could be sent out in plain text. It could also be used as the basis for a petition.

    ***

    Since they've helped me quit [reduce] smoking, I read your article on e-cigarettes with interest.

    We call them _Personal Vaporizers_ (PVs) because they have little more in common with "cigarettes" than an "air guitar" does with guitars. Vaping is _not_ smoking because _vapor_ is not _smoke_, as cooks know.

    The vaporized liquid ("e-liquid") contains vegetable glycerin (VG). VG vapor can arise from making pasta sauce. Some e-liquids contain artificial fog (propelyne glycol or PG). PG is FDA-approved for food, and asthma inhalers.

    Not all e-liquids contain nicotine. Nicotine in PVs is no more dangerous nor addictive than caffeine in coffee (and less than sugar in food). Nicotine _is_ dangerous for a few, as are peanuts. No one has overdosed on nicotine from PVs, although it's possible (ditto water).

    E-liquid doesn't contain diethelyne glycol, any more than salad contains salmonella. (Just one study of Chinese-made e-liquids found this.) Vapers support prohibiting contamination.

    PVs _aren't_ marketed to kids. Vapers support banning sale to minors. Some e-liquids contain flavors children like, just as alcoholic spirts do.

    Smoking is a "gateway" to vaping - _not_ vice-versa. Virtually all vapers have been smokers, and vape to quit or reduce smoking.

    A growing body of groups such as the National Drug Policy Alliance and the American Association of Public Health Physicians support vaping as an alternative for smokers who can't quit or cut down.

    "Punishing" vapers through taxation, regulation and fear-mongering will yield more smoking, less vaping and higher societal costs.
    My overall comment is this is well written, concise and something to run with, ASAP. I do wish for more feedback from other CASAA members, but not if it means another 6 months before we as a group start pushing on this front. Opposition isn't waiting in 2014, and if we do, we lose. Game over.

    I'd prefer the flavor part be worded differently. I like how it starts as it is fact, I believe, that eCigs/PV's aren't marketed to kids and is main point to be made in that paragraph. I would emphasize that flavors are a big deal and that there's million of combinations. I'd also compare it to food or something other than alcohol for this sort of piece. For legislators or another target group, I'd go with the alcohol angle, but for a piece like this, I'd compare it to anything that has an abundance of flavors, and how that appeals to adults more so than kids, even while kids may have appeal to it.

    Perhaps, take what I'm saying with grain of salt as I realize I don't have concise way of putting this, and to me, flavors is the biggest issue of them all. To other vapers, it might be issue #4 in terms of importance and in the scheme of things. For me, it is a solid #1, and pretty much always has been while I've been vaping and into politics of eCigs.

    I also kinda think making point along lines of: vaper means ex-smoker in most cases.
    Like make that point somewhere near the top so that the last line is framed perhaps a bit better in why punishment would have a very bad effect on society. I see the gateway point (3rd from bottom) making this point. Yet for a piece such as this, I think it ought to be brought up 3 times. Once near the top, 2nd time where you have it, and third time at end, as you have it. And I say this as one who is dual user, but also cause I think it is accurate, that most vapers are ex-smokers here in the early days of vaping. Punishing vapers sends the exact wrong message if a society actually does care to tackle the perceived problem that it has drummed up around smokers/smoking.
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    I like the idea of standard responses with a big red note that says to write this in your own words but these are the points to be made. And have the list of studies and links to put in for the most recent and accepted research.

    Maybe a table so that one column has additional things for print, online responses, and personal testimony. I would like to know what to cite.

    I don't see it so much as a copy/paste set responses but the rebuttal points for each argument. I read, "it is only water vapor" all over the web and I cringe. I agree that wrong information may end up damaging our side.

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    All that information is included in the Calls to Action that emailed to all CASAA members, and typically posted in this sub-forum.

    Perhaps something to add to the CTA's would be links to any/all pertinent studies, etc., that could be linked?
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    Ultra Member Supporting Member Roger_Lafayette's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sonicdsl View Post
    All that information is included in the Calls to Action that emailed to all CASAA members, and typically posted in this sub-forum.

    Perhaps something to add to the CTA's would be links to any/all pertinent studies, etc., that could be linked?
    CASAA only issues calls when bills have reached a certain point in the legislative process.

    By then, a slew of junk-filled media stories propagated all over the jurisdiction may have "poisoned the well."

    That's why issue-oriented campaigns often have instant-reaction "war rooms" ... they don't wait until the vast majority of the public is already convinced by their opposition's arguments.

    And there is some pretty good evidence from California's experience with bans on tobacco burning that what happens in small towns (which can be easily influenced by a small number of media stories) can rapidly spread to other small towns, and then to major cities and on to state/provincial legislative bodies.

    In the public arena, "slow and steady" very often loses the race to shape the public's first impressions. (Or as is often said, a lie often travels halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its boots.)
    Last edited by Roger_Lafayette; 01-30-2014 at 02:33 AM.
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    I should have been more clear. You can look at ANY of the Calls to Action to see a list of talking points and information to use when writing and calling officials and the media for whichever town/city/state/country you have a current concern. It's a good place to look for a list in one place.

    The other place being CASAA - The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association.
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