casaa-logo-newCASAA or the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, is an organization dedicated to ensuring e-cigarettes (and other smoke-free alternatives like Swedish Snus) remain available to consumers.  The group has been around for  years, and many readers of this blog have heard of them and may already be members. I recently learned a disturbing thing about the group.  They happily announced they are now 19,000 members strong after a huge spike in membership.

[Tweet “Go join CASAA now. You’ll feel like a better person, promise.”]There are literally millions of vapers in the US.  Granted, the bulk of them use whatever’s at the gas station so are probably not aware of the issues facing the e-cigarette industry.  But, even if you take out those users, 19,000 is still a drop in the proverbial bucket.  I get more than double that number visiting this blog each month.  That seems to indicated there are a lot of people who for whatever reasons haven’t joined up.  I’m here to explain why it’s a seriously good idea.

5. Membership is Free

This is perhaps why I’m most baffled about the membership numbers.  There’s no fee to join or anything like that.  Of course they take donations because there are expenses, and with a bigger war chest, they can afford to do more things with more resources.  However, the core mission is to organize consumers and help them have a voice to defend their right to vape.

4. The C in CASAA Stands for Consumer

CASAA is not a trade organization.  It’s a grass-roots advocacy group attempting to represent the consumer’s interests and rights when it comes to issues surrounding vaping.  There are several industry groups that represent merchants and manufacturers.  Some are pretty good, others are nakedly pursuing their own self-interests ignoring the needs of the consumer.  Either way, at the end of the day those groups represent industry, an important voice, but one that can be discounted easily by opponents of e-cigarettes.

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3. Analysis of the Important Issues and Science

There’s a couple of important functions going on here.  First, CASAA monitors potential legal actions across the country all the way down to the city level and of course all the way up to the FDA’s proposed rules.  Not only are they able to sound the alarm when shenanigans are afoot, they have also stepped in a number of times to quell the masses worked up over what is perceived to be a legal threat, but in reality is old or not applicable legislation.

The other part of what they do is keep track of scientific research in the field of tobacco harm reduction.  There’s a huge resource of information about studies that are informative. You can even find a selection of printable material you can provide to your employer or personal physician to help them understand the science behind electronic cigarettes.

2. Local Mobilization is Critical

Until recently, the vast majority of battles threatening your right to vape have all been at the state and local levels. You can sign up for alerts keyed to your region, so when a local government decides to go on a banning or taxing spree, you’ll be in the know.  More importantly, you’ll get a summary of the action, the impact to vapers and suggestions to approaches for talking to the powers that be.  Handily, contact information as well as hearing dates and times where applicable are included in the alerts.

1. They NEED You

Finally, you are an important part to the success of CASAA and ultimately of the fate of vaping. Vapers have to speak out against unfair action, to interact with their elected officials and bring our side of the story to them.  This can’t be done without constituents local to the area.  Even if CASAA had the resources to send representatives to every locality, out-of-town representatives rarely carry the weight as an in-the flesh voter.  At the very least, a phone call or e-mail to the right people is a move in the right direction.  Several bans exist simply because nobody showed up to speak out against them.

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Numbers are also important when CASAA does directly engage in talks with politicians and regulators.  How much weight does an advocacy group with 19,000 members to its credit really carry.  It seems like that’s a fairly easy number to ignore.  It would be harder to ignore 190,000 people and impossible to blow off 1.9 million members.

You can do your part to make that number a reality.  Go join CASAA now.  You’ll feel like a better person, promise.

If you already have joined, you have my thanks.  Now, go badger your friends and family to join too.