Thu 26 Jul 2018
As the old adage goes, you never feel older than 18 in your mind. Marketing gurus realise this, and exploit the inner child within us all wherever possible, through artwork and design, re-branding and re-releasing retro sweets and video games, bouncy castles for adults, adult cartoons etc.
There is a fine line however where something is still obviously for adults, and where it is not.
When it comes to e-juices, the market is literally flooded. Competing suppliers strive to have a unique selling point to get to market, or to maintain a market position against a rival. What lengths some go to can be considered at best borderline, at worst encouraging illegality.
The design and artwork of some brands and products now look to be blatantly aimed at people under the age of 18. In the eyes of some at least, triggering both the respective bodies in the UK and US to conduct an investigation.
The USA’s Food and Drug Association (FDA) have to date issued 13 warning letters to juice manufacturers warning them to change their designs, although it as of yet unclear what the punishment would be should the manufacturers not change tact.
In my opinion they have only themselves to blame. Sure, there is pressure in the market, like most markets, but there are morals, ethics and standards that need not have to be written to be adhered to. The decisions to think of, design, produce and sell these products are made by adults, adults with the additional responsibility of ensuring the product complies with all laws in the country of sale.
In the UK, the law states that all liquid whether nicotine containing or not must not be sold to under 18s. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that this has not been strictly adhered to, and in all fairness, perhaps it is a bit strict considering the current lack of availability of the products as a “stop-smoking” method. I am sure many shops that sell e-liquids to under 18s do so in good faith, most smokers started smoking pre-18. This adds to the necessity to get e-liquids easily available on prescription, or at the very least sold to under 18s at a pharmacy.
Why should the shops face the burden of being fined? The law is clear yet obscured – if no nicotine is in the product, they still cannot be sold to under 18s.
Why should shop workers have to make a conscious choice between technically breaking the law, or jeopardising the chances of a young smoker quitting?
Their confusion is not helped one bit by bottles marketed at youngsters. Speaking exclusively now of non-smokers, a range of exotic flavours may be attractive to younger people, but this risk (the evidence suggests take up by young non-smokers is incredibly low) is vastly outdone by the benefits an enjoyable flavour brings to a quitting smoker.
The question that must be asked – What do childish bottle designs bring to the table? The only conclusion I can come to is nothing but a commercial opportunity. It defies what vaping is about, and does a dis-service to the vaping community, the majority of which want vaping to be taken seriously as a healthy product, and not see negative press surrounding it. This marketing undermines the hard work of many in the industry and the community, and gives an easy target for anti-vapers to point the finger at.
Written by ELFC Content Creator Alex Blatherwick