Over 400 members in one weekend. The association Svenska Vejpare got off to a flying start after word spread on social media.
"We have reached those who are active in the groups on Facebook and we are very grateful for that. Now we have to reach the rest," says Karl-Åke Johansson, who together with Vejpkollen took the initiative for the association.
Sedan the government announced its plans on banning flavours in e-cigarettes and e-liquid, concerns have grown among Swedish users. Especially on forums such as Facebook, where Minister for Social Affairs Lena Hallengren's statement on e-cigarettes, flavours and young people provoked strong reactions. The message was that all flavours except tobacco would be banned.
"There are thousands of us in Sweden who have saved our lives with these products. Unfortunately, many will probably go back to the extremely deadly smoking tobacco if this goes ahead," said Mr Higgins. Therese Ström, one of the many dedicated vejpers on Facebook to Vejpkollen about the government's investigation.
The association Svenska Vejpare was formed
In connection with the investigation, Vejpkollen published a series of articles on how Swedish politicians view e-cigarettes from different perspectives. A majority of them believe that flavours are problematic. A ban was an option that many considered reasonable. According to the Central Association for Alcohol and Drug Information (CAN), nearly 200,000 Swedes use e-cigarettes. Around 100 000 are daily vejp users. Karl-Åke Johansson, who has taken the initiative to The Swedish Vejpare Association, argues that politicians need to take a broader view of the importance of flavours.
"Our goal as an organisation is, at least in the short term, to submit a response to the government's inquiry into the flavour ban. A second goal is to reach politicians and tell them what vejpning means to us, as former smokers who smoked with the help of the technology" says Karl-Åke Johansson.
"We are fighting for us and the companies"
At the time of writing, 425 people have applied for membership. But this is not enough, says Karl-Åke Johansson.
"To gain weight, we need more people. But the majority of vejpers in Sweden probably don't hang out on Facebook or other social media. They are e-cigarette users who only go to the shop, a vejp shop, convenience store or online, from time to time. They might buy a coil or a juice and that's fine. We need help to reach them," says Karl-Åke Johansson.
According to Karl-Åke Johasson, retailers' involvement in recruitment is very important. Not least for their own sake.
"We fight not only for the right of vejpers to vejp, but indirectly for the right of vejp shoppers to exist in the market. Even though we are fighting for our needs, the fight is for us as well as for them. It is in everyone's interest that we gain muscle" says Karl-Åke Johansson.
"Businesses need to recruit customers"
He now hopes that all vejpshoppers, even those who only have online shops, inform their customers about the Swedish Vejpare Association. And that they do so immediately.
"We don't have much time to make an impact. It's free to join and every name is important. I hope every shop puts up one of our posters with the qr code directly to the application. Online shops should publish a link with information. Physical stores that have tablets can put it on the front page so customers can easily find the form," says Mr Johansson.
The government's investigation into the proposal for a flavour ban is currently out for consultation. Responses must be registered by 1 September.