We got back from the National Smokeless Summit in Austin, Texas last night and I wanted to jot down some thoughts. Klark has done the same thing over at Quit4Today. This was the first time that KillTheCan.org has attended an event as an organization so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’d like to think that what we’ve built is being recognized and that people (outside of the 8,000 of us who have registered) see the good in it. I’m happy to report that not only did some people know who we were, but the overall response to KTC at the show was very positive. That said, it wasn’t a surprise when we heard, “Oh… you’re the Kill The Can guys”, to which we responded, “Yes we are!”
There were over 400 people in attendance from 38 states which was very cool. In multiple sessions, we were shown facts, figures and programs dedicated to helping people quit. We talked a TON about Snus, the concept of “harm reduction” (which I think is a load of crap) and the idea that smokeless tobacco use is on the RISE in the U.S. (contrary to what some tobacco insiders would have you believe). Personally I think that with the introduction of these new “spit less” products, usage is going to continue to climb for the foreseeable future.
Who Was In Attendance? Local, state and federal tobacco prevention and control administrators, tobacco program staff, public health educators and policy professionals, health care professionals and providers including physicians, nurses and clinic managers, tobacco treatment specialists, scientists, dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants, higher education staff, students, school and youth-serving agencies and youth advocates.
Who Was NOT In Attendance? Quitters.
You read that right… with the exception of the crew from KillTheCan.org there was no representation of quitters. No representation of actual addicts and no representation of the people that these products actually affect. I asked one program official how many quitters they have on staff: ZERO (though to their credit they did have multiple focus groups during development of their program). I asked another how many of their quit coaches were former users: ZERO. I heard on numerous occasions that the way to combat big tobacco was education. But when asked how much experience folks had with actual quitting: ZERO.
I give a standing ovation to the folks that were there for the work that they are doing to “fight the good fight”. Without them big tobacco would have more of a lead than they do now. However as I said MULTIPLE times during the show: “Warning labels and statistics mean less than nothing to an addict.”
I’ve been asked WHY we were attending this conference. What our “mission” was. In my estimation our goal was clear – to spread the word about KTC, to represent quitters out there and to educate the educators about the KTC way of quitting. In talking to some of the other sponsors and presenters they said that this Summit wasn’t the best they’d attended. As I have nothing to compare to I can’t comment on that. But as it pertains to our goal of getting our message out there I have to say emphatically… MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
We met some incredible people, made some great contacts and did a lot of good always speaking from the QUITTERS perspective. During the time we were at the show nearly 30 new people registered for the site proving that the quit must go on. I think it’s fair to say that we opened some eyes and I can only see good things on the horizon for both KTC and the rest of the “quit community”. While you don’t always hear about them, there are some passionate people out there fighting against big tobacco.
I’d like to take a quick opportunity to thank everyone who donated to the cause. As we’ve continually stated, KillTheCan.org and all its resources are and always will be FREE resources. The fact that folks stepped up an supported the site financially is huge and a simple “thanks” certainly doesn’t cover it. I’d also like to specifically like to thank loot, mule21 and klark for making it happen. We pulled it off folks!