Vaping: the real millions of fake consumer organizations

By Stéphane Horel

Posted today at 5:02 p.m., updated at 5:34 p.m.

The minibus of lies

“Are you a vaper or a smoker?” “ Half a dozen of them approach passers-by, flyers in hand, slogan flocked to their polyester t-shirts: « Back vaping. Beat Smoking » (“Support vaping. Beat smoking”). After Barcelona, ​​Milan or Berlin, the electric minibus of the World Vapers’ Alliance, a pink boxing glove on the roof, makes a stop in Shoreditch, a hipster district of London, at the end of September 2021.

Launched in a tour European Union which stops in eight countries, this vehicle does not emit greenhouse gases but a simple message: the electronic cigarette can “Save 19 million lives”. Vaping is “95% less harmful than cigarettes”, cry out the organization. Governments, however, are multiplying “Repressive measures”, prescribe taxes and bans on e-liquid flavors. This is why the World Vapers’ Alliance proposes to“Amplify the voice of passionate vapers around the world” to do it “To hear in the aisles of power”.

Soft eyes under a wave of slicked back hair, Adidas on his feet, Michael Landl, 34, shows the bivouac of this movement which he has been leading since August 2020. A thick layer of synthetic turf on the ground. A tent to write to his deputy and support the campaign with a signature. A studio to record his testimony as a vaper cured of cigarettes. A selfie corner. And then little gifts. “We see several hundred people a day, it works very well”, rejoices the young Austrian, who is vaping melon, green apple or mint aroma.

Michael Landl ensures that his movement brings together “Twenty-four organizations and fifteen thousand individual members approximately”. Most on his site, this number climbs to “Tens of thousands of vapers”. Who exactly does the World Vapers’ Alliance represent?

In the video studio, a clue spreads out on the high table: Red Flag. Responsible for collecting the written consents of witness vapers, this public relations firm mentioned in the documents is no stranger. His specialty: putting together movements that seem to come from the field. This lobbying and propaganda tactic has a name:« astroturfing » – an English term which designates the same artificial turf with which the London camp of the World Vapers’ Alliance is carpeted.

Ahead of its audience-less tour, the World Vapers’ Alliance staged self-allegory-free demonstrations without protesters

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Vaping: the real millions of fake consumer organizations