After four annual events in London that helped change the narrative on vaping in the U.K., the E-Cigarette Summit is visiting the U.S. next week. The first American Summit will be held in Washington, D.C., on Monday, May 8.
The British Summit was co-founded by Oliver Kershaw of ECF and Amanda Strange of Smooth Events. Both were alarmed at the dearth of truthful public dialog around vaping and ran the inaugural event in 2013 at London’s Royal Society. The Summit has run each year since, and puts public health and anti-smoking activists, scientists, and vaping consumers together to speak — and more importantly, to discuss — the issues surrounding e-cigarettes and vaping.
The discussion was a key to changing minds about vaping in the public health community in the U.K. Watching staunch opponents sit on a panel with vapers can seem like the very definition of the term “getting out of one’s comfort zone,” but it probably did considerable good for all concerned.
By the time the second Summit was held in 2014, the discussion had shifted. By that time, the authors of the historic 2015 Public Health England report — who were Summit participants — were well on their way to completing the document that was destined to challenge the comfortable assumptions of tobacco control activists.
The lineup for the first American E-cig Summit is star-studded…if you’re a nerd. It’s heavy on health and tobacco policy people and scientists, and some of them have probably never met a vaper in real life. The star is certainly Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who probably earns the title of vaping’s biggest enemy.
On the other side, Prof. Ann McNeil from Kings College London — one of the authors of the Public Health England report — will be speaking about the the differences between the British and American approaches, and the PHE and RCP reports. The sole vaper on the program is California advocate Jennifer Berger Coleman, who recently joined the CASAA board of directors.
The most exciting moments may come during a late panel that will include Myers, McNeill, pro-e-cig Iowa attorney general Tom Miller, and University of Michigan professor Kenneth Warner, who seems to be working toward a belief in the potential of vaping.
You can follow the official Summit Twitter account for information. More importantly, follow the hashtag #ecigsummit on Monday to follow the discussion and posts from people in attendance.