Collection: Political Lobbying
A push for public political advocacy is not a new tactic invented by the electronic cigarette industry. In 1928 the American Tobacco Company worked with the innovative public relations expert Edward L. Bernays to pitch cigarettes as “torches of freedom” for women. The industry made cigarettes a symbol of women’s newfound social rights in the years following women’s suffrage. From 1993 to 1999, Philip Morris covertly created and funded the National Smokers Alliance (NSA), a smoker’s rights advocacy group.
Now many eCig brands are advocating for the “freedom” to vape and very explicitly telling their followers to write letters to congressmen to oppose tax legislation in their own advertisements and social media posts. Many posts from the Blu and NJOY Facebook pages, for example, would go so far as to provide their followers with the phone numbers of a state’s legislature, a list of talking points, and instructions to demand certain vaping rights and pass the message on. These messages are usually very dramatic and exaggerated. One Facebook post on Blu’s page began, “PLEASE READ AND SHARE. FREEDOM IS UNDER ATTACK IN CALIFORNIA AGAIN!” The post then went on to explain how to oppose a new Los Angeles bill to limit the use of eCigs in public places, similar to the smoking bans that now exist.
Political calls to action from the eCig industry include warnings about upcoming legislation and how to oppose them, petitions, news articles about vaping legislation, and information on protests. The content of these messages can either appeal to the left or the right of the American political spectrum. From Martin Luther King Jr. quotes and clenched fists to posts implying that taxes on electronic cigarettes are inherently destructive and un-American, it is clear that the brand-sponsored eCig lobby has only one consistent goal, to promote the use and sales of electronic cigarettes.