Greg Conley to lead American Vaping Association
The American Vaping Association was founded in December, 2013, "for the purpose of positive media advocacy for vaping and electronic cigarettes." It is registered in New Jersey, and has applied for 501(c)(4) tax status, which will make the organization tax-exempt for the most part, but will not authorize them to receive tax-exempt charitable donations.
In April, 2014, the organization announced that its new President will be Greg Conley, former legislative affairs advisor to the advocacy group, the Citizen Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA).
The organization's home page features testimonials, a link to the group's Facebook page and one to Twitter, and a link to a statement from Conley on the new FDA Deeming Regulations. Conley takes a very pessimistic view on the Deeming Regs, expressing the view that the costs of the approval process will wipe out vape shops and give the big win to the cigarette companies of Big Tobacco. An "About Us" page gives information about tax status, a "What is Vaping?" page offers a primer, and a "Resources" page has valuable links. The contact page includes a postal address, an e-mail link, and even a telephone number.
Testimonials form the bulk of the AVA website at this point, and most of the news and daily activity seems to be on the Facebook page, which has 1669 likes and 171 talk-abouts as of 7 May.
Conley has also joined the libertarian-leaning Heartland Institute as a research fellow on tobacco and nicotine policy and regulation. He practices law independently in New Jersey, where he earned a Master's of Business Administration and a Juris Doctor ("doctor of laws") degree from Rutgers University. He has testified before the FDA and before a variety of legislative committees, and his writings have been widely published, in outlets such as The National Review Online, The New York Post, the libertarian publication Reason Online, and Convenience Store Decisions, a trade news source for stores that comprise the major e-cigarette and cigarette sales locations. Conley quit smoking when he began vaping, in August, 2010.
The AVA statement on the Deeming Regulations, from Greg Conley, is as follows: “We are greatly concerned that the Food & Drug Administration’s proposal to regulate electronic cigarette products as ‘tobacco products’ will hand the electronic cigarette market over to Big Tobacco and potentially ban the sale of products used today by tens or hundreds of thousands of ex-smokers. This proposed regulation would enact regulatory barriers that will be insurmountable for many small and medium sized electronic cigarette companies. While we support banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, we also believe that the FDA’s current regulatory scheme is entirely inappropriate for these innovative, technology-driven products.”
Conley was also quoted recently on the "Motherboard" page of Vice Media, in the piece "The E-cig industry will choke on new FDA regulations – but not Big Tobacco. The article's author, Meghan Neal, compares the Big Tobacco e-cigs to what you can vape in a mod as follows: it's "like the difference between instant coffee and responsibly sourced beans hand-ground and brewed with a high-end filter by a loving if pretentious barista."
The vaping community will certainly want to keep an eye on the activities of the AVA and its leader, and of course many vapers will want to visit and submit testimonials, if they have not already done so.