Standard response to anti-vaping articles? Draft, need feedback

Discussion in 'CASAA' started by Roger_Lafayette, Jan 22, 2014.

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  1. Roger_Lafayette

    Roger_Lafayette Guest

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    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.
     
  2. cmknight

    cmknight Senior Member ECF Veteran

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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. Vocalek

    Vocalek CASAA Activist ECF Veteran

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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.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs...to-the-editor/2011/11/17/gIQAoi7IlN_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-TriFold-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. http://www.e-cigarette-forum.com/fo...-interesting-fda-comments-2.html#post11959085

    I hope you find these helpful.
     
  4. kristin

    kristin Accessories Supplier ECF Veteran

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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)
     
  5. Roger_Lafayette

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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 *****************************************************************

    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.
     
  6. Jman8

    Jman8 Vaping Master ECF Veteran

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    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).

    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.
     
  7. PattyS1962

    PattyS1962 Full Member

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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.
     
  8. sonicdsl

    sonicdsl Reviewers Mgr
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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?
     
  9. Roger_Lafayette

    Roger_Lafayette Guest

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    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.)
     
  10. sonicdsl

    sonicdsl Reviewers Mgr
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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.
     
  11. Jman8

    Jman8 Vaping Master ECF Veteran

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    I just looked over all the links on CASAA website that would match up with what RL is getting at, and other than CTA's, I can't find something that is close.

    Typical CTA says,

    Again, to me they are similar, though have a few key differences.

    And what I hear RL saying/getting at is to go with CTA's minus a proposed bill or legislation being put forth. For the opposition and/or those perpetuating the ignorance around vaping, aren't putting forth messages only at times of proposed legislation. Instead, there is a boilerplate response that comes up on internet threads that seems to be orchestrated. As if to say, 'communicate this message enough and we will convince the general public about our take on these things, and then win when legislation is put forth. So share this message whenever you have a chance.'
     
  12. kristin

    kristin Accessories Supplier ECF Veteran

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    I'm working on a single document of common lies with rebuttals (keeping things as brief as possible), but it is extremely difficult to keep a rebuttal to just one typical ANTZ lie to just 250 words, let alone having a 250-word document that covers every possible lie being told.

    As Jman knows, we are also working on booklets (legislative, employer, medical professional) that will have rebuttal sections to common ANTZ claims and lies and pro-e-cigarette arguments. These booklets could also be used as a resource. But it takes time to get these things done.
     
  13. Roger_Lafayette

    Roger_Lafayette Guest

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    I think I got pretty close to that in the draft, actually - plus or minus whatever tweaks.

    But maybe you're trying to get one tool to do too many jobs. Perhaps it might be better to consider something like having three separate lengths to each of the most important ones, suitable for different purposes.

    (1) A super-short one-or-two sentence response to each misconception, which would be effective in a letter to the editor, or a feedback comment.

    (2) An intermediate-length reply for each misconception, which would contain links to a study or two, but perhaps not the sort of detail that one might wish to know in order to (e.g.) prep. for a City Council meeting. This length might be suitable for a blog post, or inclusion in (say) a guest opinion piece submission to a local paper. Such submissions are often entertained as responses to "hit job" articles - typically they are looked upon more kindly by local editors if the submittor is credentialed and/or a resident of the relevant region.

    (3) A fully-length reply that could serve as background for someone who might find themselves in a (moderated) public debate in front of a legislative body, i.e. with the level of detail that might be only slightly less than what one would find in a C.V. Phillips or Dr. Siegal blog post (complete with citations etc.).

    Perhaps responses of the second or third type would be too lengthy for a pamphlet. As long as the pamphlet provided a simple URL with text that could be easily cut-and-pasted (i.e. not a PDF), they would still be quite useful.

    ***

    One trick that I've used in the past is TINY URL DOT COM ... I presume you're familiar with it. People often make the mistake of using the default supplied link, but of course one can modify it. Many of these studies have very long links that come from (e.g.) Wordpress sites, but the user-supplied "shortcode" that you can put in at TINY URL will make the link memorable and concise enough for posting (e.g.) in an online comments section.

    ***

    BTW I think we're now going to be facing this: E-cigarettes, a poor smoking-cessation tool, use 19 harmful chemicals, Loyola doctor says | Loyola Medicine ... snippets/quotes from it are going to spread like widefire.

    Just came out today, but I've already spotted two full-text syndications. It's fairly choice, to put it mildly: lots of juicy alarmist stuff there for a cub reporter looking for an easy quick story - cleverly-packed into nifty short sound bites. (Now, that's messaging!)

    Just my :2c:
     
  14. kristin

    kristin Accessories Supplier ECF Veteran

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    I'll add it to my to-do list, Roger. ;)
     
  15. Roger_Lafayette

    Roger_Lafayette Guest

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    I'm always game to help, don't feel as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders!
     
  16. Jman8

    Jman8 Vaping Master ECF Veteran

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    Agree with what Roger said in his post #15 response to this.

    My additional thoughts:

    I see us working on his #2 and/or #3 rendition of rebuttals. I see these as talking points, all designed to counter misconceptions while creating impressions that answer actual claims of ignorance ("we just don't know") as well as instilling a sense of empowerment for truly understanding eCigs.

    Opposition, it often appears to me, isn't about winning minds (or engaging in intellectual discourse), but is instead about ruling emotions (or stimulating fear / uncertainty). I see this clearly as a tactic. For some (ANTZ types), it may not be the intent, but for others, I truly believe it is the primary intent.

    I think the #1 rendition of refuting common misconceptions would be effective in swaying those in the middle (presumably non-vapers who aren't easily swayed by ANTZ propaganda). Not that they'd be easily swayed by our version of propaganda, but they'd realize there are two sides to the narrative.

    The longer versions, as is #3, are ideal for a particular target segment and one that sees right thru sound bite logic for what it is, mediocre understanding of complex issues. Yet, our opposition is clearly relying on a mediocre understanding of eCigs in an attempt to sway anyone/everyone into thinking the issue is so complex, there's just 'no way to know' currently if eCigs are a good thing. Therefore, anti types must be right; it is probably bad, and must be avoided.

    IMO, anyone that ever has to bring 'the children' into a discussion, is likely engaging in mediocre understanding, unless they realize that children equals everyone reading this, regardless of their age. As I generally don't think that is their intended meaning of 'the children' then mediocrity is likely what they are up to. For that target segment, science and sophisticated intellectual discourse is too good. Sound bite counterpoints would be, IMO, far more effective.
     
  17. Luisa

    Luisa Super Member ECF Veteran

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    Roger,this might be a good time for you to respond to this particular article and see what type of response you receive and also gauge the effectiveness of your responses.
     
  18. Roger_Lafayette

    Roger_Lafayette Guest

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    Excellent point. Actually vapers are already hitting back in the comments sections. For ex. see: 19 harmful chemicals in e-cigarettes

    However my goal w/ the original post was to try to recommend that we develop the same kind of messaging that the ANTZ do (except with honor, viz., I don't suggest that we adopt the same sorts of intellectually-dishonest tactics.)

    I'll have to see what I dig out from "under the rocks" in my media round-up tomorrow, but for now it appears that I was wrong, and the UC Riverside junky "study" is more of a threat.

    All of that said, I've taking your "challenge" (if it is one) to heart for the last couple hours, and given it a shot. I appreciate the fact that you wanted me to (as it were) "put my words where my words are" :)

    ***

    I) Set the stage: vaping is NOT smoking.

    a) Short form.

    I used to smoke. Now I use a _"vaporizer."_ You might call it an "e-cigarette," but it isn't smoking, because there's no fire. No fire means no smoke.

    a1) Short form - if you have the space, add this:

    Ever played _"air guitar?"_ It's not a real guitar.

    b) Intermediate form.

    After __ years, I've quit smoking. I don't burn tobacco anymore. I use what we like to call a vaporizer. It heats a liquid and I inhale the vapor. Just like most people inhale the vapor from homemade pasta sauce, when they make it in their kitchens. The fancy word for pasta sauce vapor is "vegatable glycerin vapor" (I'll come back to that). It's what fogs up your kitchen windows on a cold night.

    "Vaporizer" might seem like a big word. But it's shorter and more accurate than "e-cigarette." Where there's _no fire_, there's _no smoke_. It's like "air guitar."

    c) Long form.

    [I'll let someone else do this part. JMan?]


    ====

    II) E-cigarettes "contain" particular things, or do they [part I - focused on the toxicity/carcinogens]?

    a) Short form.

    Dr. McAndrews [substitute name of quoted authority here] uses the phrase "contain." I think s/he [correct for gender] means that _some_ vaporizers _were found_ to contain certain bad things. Ever eaten popcorn, or a hot dog?

    b) Intermediate form.

    [I'll pass on this one. Go for it, someone!]

    c) Long form.

    Peanut butter contains rat droppings (but those are FDA-approved). Radiation causes cancer, but we all live with "background radiation." [substitute name of quoted authority here] Dr. McAndrews ignores whether these levels are dangerous. Every consumer product that we live with contains trace quantities of heavy metals, carcinogens, and toxic chemicals/ingredients. The real issue is whether these levels are dangerous.

    ====

    III) E-cigarettes "contain" particular things, or do they [part II - focused on the diversity of personal choices in PVs]?

    a) Short form.

    In fact, some vaporizers heat only vegatable glycerine (that's pasta-sauce vapor), and flavoring. In other cases, they contain nicotine. Nicotine is FDA-approved as an ingredient in smoking cessation therapies.

    b) Intermediate form.

    [I'll pass on this one. Go for it, someone!]

    c) Long form.

    [I'll pass on this one. Go for it, someone!]

    ====


    IV) Smoking cessation and HRT argument (part 1: what is the evidence that PVs help people quit?)

    ====

    V) Smoking cessation and HRT argument (part 2: what would the author prefer us to do?)

    a) Short form.

    Looks as if those of us who have tried the patch, the gum, the spray, and the inhalers have only one choice according to the author: go back to smoking tobacco cigarettes - because that has to be better. No dice. [If you dare, include this incendiary conclusion:] Over my dead body.

    b) Intermediate form.

    The author appears to suggest that we'd be better off giving NRT (FDA-approved Nicotine Replacement Therapy) another try. What [correct for gender] s/he doesn't realize is that we _already have_. Many of us are reducing our intake of nicotine - even though we don't think it more dangerous than caffeine for most folks. We believe the American Society of Public Health Physicans and other organizations such as the Drug Policy Alliance have it right: use of vaporizing devices is a very effective harm reduction approach. Even the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association agree that using vaping devices is a great deal less harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes [is this correct?]

    c) Long form.

    [C.V. Phillips and Dr. Siegal's blogs have to be examined here.]

    ====

    V) Nicotine is dangerous, addictive, carcinogen.

    [I'm not even going to tread into this territory at the moment, anyone else - have at summarizing the relevant info.]
     
  19. sonicdsl

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  20. Roger_Lafayette

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    Thanks for the links! (It may surprise you to hear this, but I was already aware of them. But I take the blame for not making that clear.)

    At the risk of being tiresome, let me repeat a couple of points about "messaging."

    1) For years, rich Americans were paying lots of money to accountants and tax attorneys (that's "solicitor" if you're from the UK) in order to avoid the estate tax. Some of them also donated huge sums to lobbyists. But - try as they might - they just had to keep on spending more and more. The public (and politicians) just didn't care about the fact that a bunch of wealthy folks were being doubly-taxed. Then some bright consultant (Frank Luntz) came up with the phrase "death tax". Bingo: problem solved, with just two little words!

    2) If you live in a tin shack, and someone with a bulldozer wants to demolish it, it's helpful to know that you can build a concrete barrier with the earth surrounding your abode. But that's not enough. In order to stop the bulldozer, you have to first convert the material into a usable form.

    Let me not be misunderstood ... I'm very grateful for the hard work that went into accumulating and cataloging all the available information.

    Sadly, it will do us little good if it remains locked away in a virtual library.
     
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