I must state initially to professing to have very limited experience at either helping to establish, or belonging to a Consumer Association, so my commentary will lack expertise, but rather reflect a few of my assembled thoughts which are UK centric.
My first encounter with a Consumer Association was in early 2013 when the now-defunct organisation ECCA was going through its 'death throws', if I recall correctly there was an extraordinary AGM organised in about April or May of that year, attempting to organise officials and policy for the upcoming year and beyond.
The meeting was via internet link and was well attended, but rapidly became unruly, with anarchy setting in, largely instigated by an 'elitist group' who repeatedly caused chaos throughout 2013 onwards, 'agent provocateur was a label given to some of those. ECCA continued briefly but was increasingly beleaguered and irrelevant, despite the best efforts of those who were left in charge.
Throughout 2014 a new organisation the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) was in the process of formation, trying to combine Scientists, Academics, and Consumers alike to appeal to a far greater audience, and crucially to increasingly gain the respect of the key decision-makers and influencers.
These efforts in the early days were certainly a result of the efforts of a few key individuals and were always on a threadbare budget. I briefly served on the Board for maybe about 6 months, but for a variety of reasons felt that I was unable to fully contribute so stood down.
The organisation through that period is worthy of highlighting for others, there were formal titles for Chairman,Vice Chair, Treasurer, etc but by and large, the organisation was run by a small committee of about 7-8, with monthly internet meetings. Decisions arrived at by consensus.
The NNA has now been successfully in operation for 7 years, with a few changes in the Board over that time frame, but remains an influential body in the UK, greater influence would of course be better still.
Other Organisations and Other Countries
Again, I was aware of well organised French and German Consumer organisations, following my switch to Vaping in 2013. During the EFVI campaign of 2013-14 it seemed obvious that both Trade and Consumer organisations in the UK, Europe and even more widely, needed to evolve and collaborate on a far more organised basis. Now a bewildering array of such organisations exist, as well as NNA models in some other countries.
One country however has seen the rise and fall of its Consumer Association(s), Australia. It would be presumptuous of me to offer remedies or any advice as I know absolutely nothing of the difficulties or the persons involved, but suffice to say I hope that they can rapidly overcome whatever obstacles exist.