The Electronic Cigarette Association (ECA) is a 501(c)(6), which is a not-for-profit trade association. This allows us to collect donations (not tax deductible as a charitable contribution) but still lobby the government to recognize our agenda.
We have elected the board members and officers (Matt Salmon – President, Jack Leadbeater – Chair, James Watt – Vice Chair, Chad Green – Treasurer, Antoinette Lanza, Nick Bird, and Rob Winslow) and are just completing the official member application. The application will be circulated once complete.
The ECA has minimum membership dues for suppliers and manufacturers of a one time application fee of $500 USD and a monthly fee of $300 USD. Many companies are paying much more than the minimums. These funds, along with any donations received, will be used for these purposes:
1) Engaging Policy Impact Communications (www.policyimpact.com) to lobby Congress. Our lobbying efforts include proposing amendments to the Tobacco Bill (which continues to change names, but was first introduced by Waxman and now a new one is being introduced by Kennedy). The amendment proposed is designed to help protect the electronic cigarette from being pulled off the market.
2) Engaging Policy Impact Communications to perform the administrative duties necessary to keep the ECA in good standing with the IRS and other government agencies.
3) Engaging a media relations firm to battle misinformation being presented by e-cigarette opponents and to expand the reach of electronic cigarettes so all smokers have the freedom to choose an alternative.
4) Implement standards to ensure e-cigarette suppliers and distributors meet certain requirements.
5) Implement standards to ensure our products meet certain requirements. This process is time and resource intensive, but is necessary to ensure the future of our industry. Third party agencies will need to be hired to physically visit electronic cigarette and eliquid manufacturing plants worldwide to verify the standards the ECA has set out.
No board members are taking a salary from the ECA, although Matt Salmon is employed by Policy Impact Communications. No one ECA member will directly benefit more than any other member. This is about saving our industry, not one company.
What do companies get for becoming an ECA member? They will hopefully get to keep their business. What do consumers get for donating their money and time? They will hopefully get to keep legally buying and using electronic cigarettes. This is all hopeful, but possible if we band together.
Our goals are lofty. We have a product that is an alternative to tobacco (Big Tobacco) and an alternative to smoking cessation products (Big Pharm). These industries have almost limitless reach within Congress and in some cases within the Public Health community. However the electronic cigarette is a good product that provides an alternative to a known killer and is worth fighting for.
If you believe the e-cigarette should be pulled off the market, subjected to 2+ years of clinical trials at a cost in the millions, then eventually be sold in pharmacies as a quit smoking product for something well above current retail prices, then just go about your business.
If you believe the e-cigarette should be an accessible product to legal age smokers at a reasonable price and be held to specific standards, then I highly recommend you donate to the ECA. We will need it. Please visit www.ecassoc.org/donate/
Thank you for your support.
ECA Vice Chair