CASAA is a short acronym, but it stands for the long title “Consumer Advocates for a Smoke-Free Alternatives Association.” This non-profit organization is run by a mixture of e cig vendors and individuals from various walks of life who promote Tobacco Harm Reduction methods.
With more than 27,000 regular members at last count, it is a considerable organization the goal of which is to disseminate information about vaping and electronic cigarettes to anyone who is interested, to fund research into vaping, and to counter anti-vaping arguments from various sectors. They also support one another as a community using their forum and other activities.
It is no secret that the US Government and various bodies from around the world (including WHO) have expressed concern about vaping: its potential dangers and possible benefits. Parties from both sides of the argument have been discussing the issue and sometimes issuing statements based on opinion rather than fact. The plain truth is that too little scientific information is yet available for the public to form a knowledgeable and full picture of what this form of nicotine delivery system might be doing to bodies and second-hand vapers in the long run.
That is why CASAA supports research but also denounces uninformed statements and unbalanced commentary, in particular when influential bodies are speaking and Big Tobacco becomes involved.
Calls to Action
One of their primary goals since becoming organized in 2009 has been to motivate action from vapers. They protest against negative reception by the FDA and other organizations — both official and unofficial — by writing letters to members of congress and talking about why they vape.
Many of their members have been passionate, intelligent, and straightforward in the face of negativity from the other side. This calm, sensible approach has given balance to a sometimes aggressive response from vapers which rose up from calls to ban e cigs and related devices. If they can back their opinions with scientific evidence, it is easier to counter bad opinion based on fear with the reassurance of hard facts.
CASAA’s original board was elected but the current board was appointed and includes accountants, lawyers, professors, and e cig vendors. Only one third of these individuals can be commercially involved in the e cig industry. All of them are volunteers: no one is paid to participate in CASAA.
Regional representatives in 45 states and DC plus 5 countries monitor and report the vaping situation in their areas to the central board in Alabama. It is their intention that regular people — vapers — be most involved because there can be no claims of “conflict of interest” in such a case. That is, vapers wish for their smoking alternative to remain viable but are not motivated by money to speak their peace.
Membership and fundraising drives bring money into the organization but funds are not set aside to pay participants for their work. These are used to create promotional materials which are handed out at events such as vape meets and by shop owners (leaflets, bumper stickers, etc). Some funds are used to support research about e cigs and e liquid.
In particular, members are acting to influence upcoming reports by the FDA following their work to assess e cig companies around the United States. Although the comment period ended in August, it is still possible, through CASAA, for vapers to make their opinions heard.
If the non-vaping public can understand how important e cigs are to former smokers and what vaping has done for their lives, perhaps the tide will turn. CASAA’s website posts information about e cigs, smoking, and an online survey about vaping which they invite people to fill out.