Patrick Riffe Pulls No Punches

THE VAPING ADVOCATE INTERVIEW WITH PATRICK RIFFE

Patrick Riffe, AKA Nacht Noir, is a frequent contributor to The Vaping Advocate.  After numerous opinion pieces, the magazine realized it was time to sit down with the controversial author for a look at the past and future of the vaping industry, The Vaping Militia, and Smoke Free Radio. 

The Vaping Advocate:  So, the obvious first question.  How long were you a smoker?

Patrick: Well, I started smoking when I was 12.  My best friend and I would purposely miss the bus after school and walk home so we could stop by one of the local mom and pop convenience stores to buy cigarettes for our "Dads".

The Vaping Advocate: And the obvious second question, how did you learn about vaping?

Patrick: That was sort of an accident.  The entire time I dated my now wife, I promised to quit smoking when we got married.  Funny part was I loved smoking.  I actually loved it.

 We got married in the Philippines and cigarettes were like $12 a carton.  I bought 10 cartons before we got married and promised to quit when they were all gone.

 When we got home, I had a stack of these cigarettes on my desk.  My wife would check in on them from time to time and say, "You are quitting when they are gone."  What she didn't know was that I was buying a couple packs at a time so I didn't run out.

 Eventually, I didn't notice my supply was running low, but she noticed.  "You've only got two packs left." she said one night.

 The next day we went to the mall.  While she was buying lotions and girly stuff in one of those chain bath stores, I noticed the "E-Cig" kiosk, and walked over.

 After talking to the guy for about 45 minutes I bought a $150 cig-a-like.  This was December 1, 2011.

The Vaping Advocate:  How difficult was the transition process for you?

At this point I had to be all in.  I had snuck around for long enough so I was dedicated to quitting this time.  Over the last10 years I had tried every over the counter pharma products, I'd tried hypnosis, I even tried acupuncture.

 I never smoked another cigarette after that first drag of that damned expensive cig-a-like.

The Vaping Advocate: Setbacks on your vaping journey?

Patrick: Actually, I have thought about smoking a cigarette thousands of times, but no setbacks.

The Vaping Advocate: What flavors and device pushed you over the edge?

Patrick: When I started there were not the crazy amount of devices and flavors that are around now.  I ran across an e-liquid maker on the internet and got my hands on some of his e-liquids.  For a full year I only vaped a single flavor, Peachberry menthol from Delaware Vapor.

The Vaping Advocate:  So how did you got from Peachberry menthol vaper to Advocate?

Patrick: I was tired of seeing so many local governments hitting vaping with restrictive ordinances.  I didn't see anyone trying to organize against them.  2014 was crazy.  Not a lot of businesses were even aware until I picked up the phone and told them.

The Vaping Advocate: What was your first “advocate” job?

Originally I was asked to assist the militia with research and tracking ordinances.  These attacks on vaping were happening in every state and there were only 5 guys trying to handle all of them.

 Eventually, I was asked to join the board and officially became the Legislative Director when the FDA deeming was officially released and CASAA asked the militia if we were willing to help deal with the local alerts so they could focus on federal level strategy.

The Vaping Advocate: What other groups are you involved in?

I am a member of CASAA as all vapers should be.  I am a board member of the vaping militia.  I have assist SFATA on the state level since it was created, and have helped businesses in several states for state trade groups.

 The Vaping Advocate:  What is the current state of the militia?

Patrick: We as a board decided that our efforts had been duplicated by other groups and continuing to do the same things was not productive.  It was always our wish to be able to offer assistance when needed, fill gaps left by the other organizations and to be watchful for new strategies that might be successful.

 The current situation in the advocacy arena looks the most promising it has in the last few years.  The efforts of the groups currently in DC on a federal level, and their assistance with organizing the state groups have improved.

 So it was decided at this time for the militia to go into sort of guard duty.  We are no longer accepting money donations or memberships as a group.  The board are still active advocates and activists, but for now we are acting as individuals until we see a point of attack for the organization.

The Vaping Advocate:  So with The Vaping Militia on hiatus, what are you doing for advocacy?

Patrick: Well, everyone has their own abilities.  I always felt that I was a pretty good writer.  So I have been using that strength by writing for the vape magazines and blogs both for the militia and individually for a while.

 I am also very active with the state trade group here in Texas and I do a weekly podcast on the Smoke Free Radio Network called #sonoflibertyradio.

The Vaping Advocate:  Tell us more about Son Of Liberty Radio?

#sonoflibertyradio is a vaping politics and opinion podcast where I am able to talk about the week's news in vaping, issues I see in the community.

Saturday nights on http://www.smokefreeradio.com/

The Vaping Advocate: What is your goal with the podcast?

 Patrick: It is my goal to help create a group of what I call "Citizen Vapers".  There are too many people who are unaware of what is going on around them and uneducated in basic civics.

The Vaping Advocate: Is being a radio personality your secret dream job?

Patrick: Its not really a secret.  I actually did a radio show on my college radio channel about a hundred years ago.

The Vaping Advocate:  What is your favorite part of doing the podcast?

Patrick: I get to express my opinions, we have phone lines so I get to talk to the normal vaper and get their opinions out into the world.  I am able to offer to host advocates from all over the country and help them tell their stories.

The Vaping Advocate:  Have their been any particular highlights that stand out for you?

Patrick: I did an episode a while back called "Vapers Hate Smokers" where I highlight all he mistakes this industry is making by not embracing the smoker and not producing products that appeal to them and encouraging them to quit.

 The Vaping Advocate:  Your articles for this magazine are always very charged towards getting the reader motivated to act with urgency.  Have you sensed a difference in the community since the regs were announced almost a year ago?

Patrick: I really can't tell much of a difference in the industry after the regs were finalized.  I don't see the prohibition of introducing new products after 8/8/16 being followed.  I still see immature brands raking in money.  I still see state groups begging for the businesses in their state to help with lobbying and fund raising to combat bills that will destroy their industry.

The Vaping Advocate: What do you think of the competition that has settled in for the advocacy groups?

Patrick: I actually see much more cooperation between the big groups this year.  There are individuals who are stirring the pot and we don't always know what is happening behind the scenes.  I try not to get diverted by the drama, but there are always bad actors who will try to develop some sort of "fame" or gain by blowing smoke up the masses asses.

The Vaping Advocate:  It looks like we are heading towards the point where we might have multiple pro-vaping bills moving their way through Congress.  How do you see that working out?

To tell you the truth I am hoping that there won't be some sort of vape bill battle royale.  We have two stand alone bills that could help the industry as well as the Cole-Bishop language still alive in the AG funding bill.  I don't see why it has to be reduced to "support my bill and not the other one cause mine is better."  We are trying to save the vape industry, preserve jobs and consumer access and ultimately the lives of every smoker that hasn't made the choice yet.

Patrick: If you could go back in time three years - is there anything you think we could have done as an industry to have protected ourselves from the government?

This won't make me popular.  We should have grown up 3 years ago.  As an industry the focus has been on "cool" instead of responsible.  Too many companies have not been focused on longevity and growing in a mature way.  For many it has been about the lifestyle instead of saving lives.

 

Gabriel Benson