American Vaping Association Will Shut Down, But the Work Goes On

by

Jim McDonald

 

The American Vaping Association, an advocacy organization that represents both consumers and the independent industry, will end operations after nearly 10 years. The news was delivered in a letter to supporters from AVA President Gregory Conley.

The AVA, launched in 2014, has largely been a one-man operation, serving as a platform for Conley’s relentless efforts to defend and legitimize vaping. He made himself (and the AVA) the go-to source for mainstream media seeking the “vapers’ point-of-view.”

“While this may be the end of AVA,” Conley wrote in the farewell letter, “our common goal remains; ensuring that smokers have access to safer alternatives. Despite rough times to come, I am hopeful for the future.”

 

Conley will continue doing similar work as Director of Legislative and External Affairs at the American Vapor Manufacturers Association (AVM)—a job he accepted in 2022. The difference is he will now represent AVM members—mostly small- and medium-sized vape businesses—rather than serving as a kind of universal spokesperson for tobacco harm reduction, vape businesses, the technology itself, and the people who use it.

As American Vaping Association president, Conley was interviewed on most major news networks, debated anti-vaping activist Stanton Glantz on public radio, organized protests by vapers and business owners, and spoke against restrictive vaping bills in dozens of state legislatures. In 2019, Conley participated in a White House listening session where he explained to President Donald Trump that flavored nicotine vaping products are important for people trying to quit smoking and were not responsible for the “EVALI” lung injury outbreak.

 

The AVA was founded in 2014 by Conley and vape business owners trying to combat the slanted news coverage and misinformation campaigns vaping faced. Before that, he had served as the first Legislative Director of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), which he had joined in 2010 while still attending law school at Rutgers University.

The AVA’s remaining funds will be split into donations to CASAA and the Influence Foundation, which funds the online publication Filter. Both organizations are dedicated to harm reduction.

“Looking ahead,” Conley wrote today, “the vaping industry—and the tobacco and nicotine industry as a whole—face immense challenges, from byzantine regulatory hurdles to billionaire-funded misinformation campaigns. My work with the AVM will continue and is geared towards addressing some of these challenges head-on.”

(This article first appeared here.) -vn

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