For many sports fans that are into MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fights, we often forget the struggle that the MMA industry had to go through to become a legitimate sport. The early days consisted of full on brawls that were more similar to street confrontations or gladiator death fights than anything resembling a real sport. The MMA industry was even ostracized by many states and their sport authorities, which relegated the “sport” to a fringe competition that was followed by a tiny niche group of enthusiasts.
In order for the MMA sport to gain legitimacy it had to change its focus, image and no rules mentality. These changes needed to affect the safety of the fighters, the perception of the public and most importantly the attitudes of local, state and federal governments. By setting clear rules, standards and safety elements, mixed martial arts fighting has become one of the fastest growing sports in history and an industry that has become accepted for its required talent, skill and professionalism.
But how does MMA relate to vaping?
Vaping Is Misunderstood
Similar to MMA fighting, vaping is largely misunderstood and therefore has a stigma and a host of misinformation that surrounds it. Just like the early days of MMA, vaping got its start resembling the wild west. No rules, passionate people and a desire to do something amazing.
Through the years people who vape, the vape product manufacturers and promoters took advantage of the new market. Many early adopters who experienced vaping and the superior help it provided with quitting smoking, became business people in the vaping industry and attempted to put their new-found passion to work helping others, while generating an income. Though the intentions and passion for vaping was an amazing thing, it has also created misunderstandings and assumptions about vaping that fueled additional challenges later on.
Vaping Is A Target
When a new industry gains traction, it tends to threaten established brands, markets and industries that once had a monopoly on their space. We saw this happen to boxing when MMA really began to take off. The sport of boxing and the many people, businesses and fighters that rely on the sport for their massive incomes began to see a decline in viewers, fans and attendance. This directly affected the revenue and income the sport was generating.
When disruption of this type occurs, someone or something will often be targeted in order to preserve the status quo, power and income that an industry has become accustomed to. Early on, boxing used its influence to make accusations against MMA in an attempt to de-legitimize it as a sport, cloud the minds of sports fans and retain its prestige over MMA. Still today, we see boxing in a struggle against the growth of MMA and its very survival as a major sports revenue draw.
Vaping is really no different. When people are quitting smoking by the thousands each month and doing it more effectively and easily than any other known alternative to smoking, it is going to affect entire industries, governments and revenues. Add to it that unbiased, independent research shows that vaping is 95% safer than smoking and you are definitely going to ruffle some feathers.
Ruffling the feathers of big tobacco, the revenues that governments around the world receive through the punitive damage settlements with tobacco companies and their sales of cigarettes is significant. Also, the impact on big pharmaceutical companies revenues when an alternative stop smoking method dramatically out performs theirs is going to make you a target. These and other reasons have made vaping and the vape industry a target for misinformation, government controls and even outright manipulation, lying and the potential banning of vaping in certain circumstances.
Sound familiar? It’s so similar to the rise of MMA, it’s uncanny.
Changing The Image Of Vaping Changes Everything
So how did MMA change the perceptions of their sport and combat the misinformation that came against them from lobbyists, boxing and governments? They instituted rules to govern their sport, educated governments and consumers about MMA using facts and data, but most importantly MMA changed their image by portraying their sport in a professional way. MMA stopped promoting blood, guts and the toughman fighting image, and instead replaced it with professionalism, order and lifestyle branding that made it approachable, understandable and appreciated by the average sports fan.
The vaping industry is at the same stage MMA was in its early days. It desperately needs to change perceptions, its negative image and messaging that has attached itself to vaping, vapers and the industry as a whole. Vape has to grow beyond bikinis and dark imagery and establish itself with facts, compliance and professionalism that the average smoker, government and consumer will take seriously. If the benefits of vaping are going to prevail over the attacks of big pharma, tobacco and the lobbyists trying to destroy it, vaping needs to legitimize itself for its customers, potential customers and those that can negatively impact its future.
Interestingly enough, Juç has an MMA fighter it sponsors. We believe the connection to MMA and vaping goes beyond just the cool factor, it also epitomizes the similar struggle and the required dedication, hard work and motivation that it takes to win. We embrace the fight of the vaping industry against the powers that be and this video of Ian King depicts it perfectly!