Are Juice Companies Marketing to Children?
Anyone who vapes knows that there are a million and one flavors out there with the majority of them tending to be on the sweet side. Courting names like Strawberry, Pixie Stix, Gummy Bear, Snozzberries, Licorice, Grape… the list goes on and on. With all of these sweet flavors that are enticing to everyone, IS IT FAIR to say that the e-juice companies are marketing to children as most media outlets have been proclaiming or, does everyone need to grasp the fact that adults may also have a sweet tooth?
Recently, three girls in Brockton, MA, were sent to the hospital after drinking e-juice on the bus on their way to school. While the girls are all expected to be fine, it shows that the sweet smell, identified flavor and lack of warning labels on many brands can lead children to think that it is okay to ingest. Of course it goes without saying that child safety for any product, let alone those produced in the smoking space, is something that has been in the public eye and a sensitive topic for decades, especially after Joe Camel campaign in the 90’s.
For those of you who don’t remember or have forgotten about the controversial mega marketing play from Camel Cigarettes a couple of decades ago, Joe Camel, a cartoon character, was on almost every Camel Cigarette ad, stand, box, billboard, commercial and practically any other item that the company put out. In 1991, the Journal of the American Medical Association released a study that revealed that the majority of six year old children could easily identify Joe Camel as being associated with cigarettes. The R. J. Reynolds company, the makers of Camel Cigarettes, was asked to stop using the character after that same study found that over 30% of their cigarettes were sold illegally to minors which was up from only 6% a few years prior. When the company refused, an attorney in San Francisco brought a suit against them claiming that they were using the Joe Camel character purely to market to children. It wasn’t until 1997 with mounting pressure from the upcoming trial, the US Congress, and many other interest groups, that the R. J. Reynolds Company pulled the character from their packaging.
Many people still remember Joe Camel and are probably wondering if history is repeating itself. Are e-juice companies targeting children with their enticing “pleasing to the pallet” flavors in order to get them in the game at an early age? Is that their angle? I don’t know, are the beer brands who have been rolling out newly popular citrus flavored beers as of late targeting children? I don’t hear anyone talking about that possibility. Why? Maybe it’s due to the simple fact that people prefer to enjoy something that tastes good as opposed to something that tastes like you just licked the bottom of your shoe. The fact is studies show that beginners often start out with tobacco and menthol varieties and then quickly transition into sweet and fruity blends.
From a business point-of-view, it simply doesn’t make sense to invest a massive amount of money in developing thousands upon thousands of products for an audience who is not your primary target demographic, let alone for a segment of the market that more than likely doesn’t have the money to purchase it. From a common sense point-of-view, we as parents and responsible adults need to keep these products out of the reach of children, because if we wouldn’t give it to them to drink on purpose, then we shouldn’t want them to ingest it by accident.
The fact that the vaping industry isn’t FDA regulated, that the government hasn’t found a way to tax us into extinction or, collected enough data to conclude that vaping is far worse than traditional cigarettes, leaves mainstream media with very few options but to create a flamboyant hook that will gain their platform attention. Our job is to be sure that we don’t provide them with the ammunition they need to substantiate their point.