The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association was formed to speak for the electronic cigarette industry which is made up of e-cig producers, distributors and retailers. The SFATA was launched in 2009 with headquarters in Washington, D.C. This trade association is funded by the industry and through donations with a focus on public relations, answering questions and providing accurate information about e-cigs.
The mission of the SFATA is to provide a collective voice for electronic cigarette organizations and providers. This is accomplished by providing accurate information and the tools needed to the media, policy makers and opinion leaders in the country. The Association is aimed at instituting industry-wide standards and a code of conduct that will both educate and reassure the public and legislators at all levels of government on the use and safety of e-cigs.
From the time they were introduced in 2003 electronic cigarettes have been under attack by the powerful lobbyists of big tobacco and large (profitable) pharmaceutical firms. After significant pressure from those lobbies, the FDA conducted a very narrow testing of e-cigs. The results of the FDA test found a trace amount of a high risk compound but did not compare that result with similar testing of tobacco cigarettes. Tobacco companies use that limited FDA study to push for a ban on electronic cigarettes. The formation of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association was to combat the misinformation being spread by tobacco and pharmaceutical companies.
The focus of information for the SFATA is to offer the electronic cigarette as a safer and cheaper alternative to tobacco products. To do this, the Association encourages users to share their stories and to contact their Legislators in Congress.
The misinformation about e-cigarettes is not unusual when a new and innovative product is introduced. The serious health risks of smoking tobacco are well known yet for generations smoking tobacco was fully accepted in our society. Ashtrays were provided everywhere you went and television and print commercials linked smoking cigarettes to a lifestyle of glamour and sophistication.
The serious health risks of smoking and the number of ingredients, additives and compounds in smoke are now understood. In just a few years smoking tobacco has changed from being an acceptable habit to being socially unacceptable. More and more entertainment venues ban smoking, public buildings are now smoke-free and some even complain at smokers who light up outdoors.
Electronic cigarettes are a product meant to provide an alternative to tobacco. E-cigs have come under attack from large companies who stand to lose profits with the rapid growth of electronic cigarette use. E-cigs are also condemned by some legislators and organizations who want smoking stopped altogether. One group is profit motivated while the second is health related yet they share the goal of banning the sale of e-cigs.
Forty years ago the surgeon general declared tobacco smoking a health hazard yet only last year was action begun to place tobacco products under the regulation of the FDA. The health risks of smoking have been well known and documented but the FDA has never once suggested banning the use of tobacco. Electronic cigarettes have been available for a short time only and yet the FDA is hinting at banning the product altogether. The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association hopes that with self regulation of e-cig suppliers and with dissemination of accurate information, they will be able to keep electronic cigarettes on the market for the public’s use.