By SUSAN OSER
This year more than ever we seriously need to pay attention this election year.
First, we have to elect a new president. Hundreds of senators and representatives are up for reelection. Governors and state legislators will be seeking new seats or reelection, as well. This would also be the year when some important initiatives are on the ballots ranging from legalization of marijuana to equal pay legislation.
You probably have heard all this ad nauseam already. Some of you might also have already voted in a primary for the person you think would be best for the country, your state, and city. However, have you ever thought about the person who might best serve the vaping community? Did you ever ask them the question? Do you know how to do so?
The goal of this article is to give you the vapers not only the proper information on voting in general, but how as a community we can make a difference in ways you have never considered:
1. Research and learn about the candidates – Every candidate has a website that not only gives a biography, but also lists what their views are on various issues. Don’t see one on vaping, tobacco, etc.? Contact them directly via email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Let them know you’re a concerned voter who vapes and that the answer to your questions will help them decide on whether that candidate has your vote or not.
If you’re on Twitter, you can find the candidates Twitter account and any one of these (or more) of the following things:
@myrepresentative/presidential candidate What are your opinions on #vaping?
@_____ please discuss vaping and the ecigarette industry at your next rally
@_____ if you support #vaping, you got my vote
From my experience and what I’ve seen, some vapers who have already taken to Twitter have gotten blocked by merely stating facts about vaping or who disagree with their rulings on putting vaping and tobacco in the same boat, high taxes, etc. Let’s think about this for a moment: Would you seriously vote for someone who blocks or ignores your voice and opinion on vaping?
If you have tried sending a tweet to one of the presidential candidates out there and have not gotten a response, what is stopping you from sending another one? Just be aware that some candidates don’t tweet themselves but have a ghostwriter who gets paid to do it for them.
2. Attending political events – If you know that a politician is going to have a meet and greet, rally, or a town hall meeting, go there. If you are able to ask a question about e-cigarettes and their stances on it, do so.
Need ideas for questions to ask? Check out these ideas below:
Would you support legislation that outlaws vaping and e-cigarettes if it affected jobs?
Would you support FDA-deeming regulations on vaping and e-cigarettes? Please describe any action in support of your position.
Would you support a tax increase on vaping and e-cigarettes?
Would you support legislation that requires vaping and e-cigarette products sold to 18+ consumers ONLY?
These questions might get some people to ask what vaping is or may peak more interest about it. Depending on their answer and how the crowd reacts to that answer OR your question, it will tell you clearly where vaping stands in the public arena and how much work one must do. If your question gets ignored, then you know where you stand with that candidate.
3. Being a one issue voter – There are some people who vote for someone based on their overall feelings of various issues that they are concerned about. Others will base a vote on their candidate on just one issue. Vaping is definitely one of those only issues that will determine the fate of a candidate. If they are for it, you vote for them. If they are against it, hopefully you can help vote them out of office or at the very least vote against them. If they don’t reveal their answer either way, find a candidate or someone who is running for office who can give you an answer and keep asking it.
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4. Be aware of any pending proposals A-F, 1-2, etc. – Are there any possible tax increases, or other proposals that have put vaping bans and/or e-cigarette taxes in the voters hands? If that’s the case, make sure that you understand the wording. The reason this is important is because sometimes the wording can be such that it tries to sway to vote one way when you REALLY want to vote another way. If you’re confused about the wording, you have great members from CASAA that you can email and personally contact who will help you understand the language.
5. Register to vote – It is highly important that you make sure that you are registered to vote. This is where it all happens. Your vote (or non-vote) can make or break the industry. If you are registered to vote, congratulations! Get out there and do it! Make sure your fellow vapers are registered and encourage them to exercise their civil right. If you are not sure how to register to vote, contact your local city government office, log on to your state website, etc.
6. Get the issue of vaping out there in the media – Besides social media, podcasting, and blogging, there are other great ways to make vaping a more political issue than it is now (or some feel it is not). If the local news does a story on vaping in regard to who is proposing a vape ban and you feel that you have something to add to the conversation or the story, make sure to write to them. Writing a letter to the editor to a local or regional newspaper or publication can also help because then the issue is out there and those who are interested or care will not only read about it, but just might want to learn more about vaping.
7. Encourage other vapers to vote – Just as I’m giving ideas in this article about the importance of voting and becoming a strong voting bloc in this year’s election, YOU need to do the same thing. It means taking this article and talking about it on your podcasts, at the shop you go to, with friends and family, etc. This is how Rock the Vote got started to appeal to a generation of young people who were left out in the political process. So, why can’t the same be done for vapers? This is where you can contact and align yourself with CASAA, #IamaVaper2016, Vaping Militia, etc. and tell them that you need help in getting the word out vote.
Remember this: If you vote, you are exercising your right to choose and becoming an activist for yourself and the vaping community. If you don’t, then you have no right to complain. I don’t know a more honest way to state it.
The following vaping organizations can lend support to those dealing with local issues or looking for ways to motivate voters in your region.
CASAA – http://www.casaa.org
#IamaVaper – https://www.facebook.com/groups/IamaVaper2016/
Vaping Militia – http://thevapingmilitia.org/
Not Blowing Smoke – http://notblowingsmoke.org/
In Michigan= Michigan Smoke-Free Alternatives – https://www.facebook.com/groups/msfac/?ref=bookmarks
In Colorado – NE Colorado Vapers Society – https://www.facebook.com/groups/NeColoradoVapersSociety/?ref=bookmarks
Vapers Voter Guide – http://vapersvotingguide.com/