Vaping News

The Public Image of Ecigs

The Public Image of Ecigs: How vaping is perceived dictates in part how lawmakers act

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The market is huge and set to get even bigger, and so is the spend companies are making in order to paint a picture of who they are and how they operate. But other factors can influence how the public and lawmakers – things like the stuff they actually do.

Not abiding by the law is probably the stupidest action any vape vendor can make but, as residents of Wigan know, this is what is happening. It’s fair to assume that most (if not all) of those flouting the no selling to under-18s legislation are non-vape specialists – but it still reflects on the industry at large.

Wigan’s Trading Standards carried out test purchases using under-aged customers and discovered a disappointing number for stores happy to sell to anybody regardless of age. The potential of a £2,500 fine appears to act as little deterrent to those bent on flouting the law.

“We strongly advise shopkeepers to make sure they ask for proof of age from anyone who looks under 25,” said Terry Gregson on behalf of Wigan’s Trading Standards. “Businesses should regularly use a refusals register when individuals attempt to buy e-cigarettes in order to record the event.”

Actions that smack of irresponsibility do nothing but feed into the Pharma-driven story that vape businesses are seeking to lure in non-smokers in order to further develop markets. It’s Internet tales of teens being able to buy cigalikes and vape pens that lends the likes of Hong Kong’s Council on Smoking and Health (CSH) a sense that they are on a righteous moral crusade.

Following on from their more than dubious study announcing that ecigs are a million times more harmful than HK’s highly polluted air, the CSH are continuing to push for a total ban causing the Asian Vape Association to declare: “Regulate us, don’t ban us.”

“A ban will just create a black market and people would be able to import these goods very easily,” said the association’s chairman. “Consumers are now consuming products which are completely unregulated, even more dangerous than before.”

The problem facing vaping is that of image, according to Jacob Hasselbalch, a PhD student at Warwick, although vapers might not like the use of terminology he uses in his argument. There is no doubting the fact that the action of Wigan’s vendors does tarnish the public image of the ecig but Hasselbalch goes further. In his essay, he polarises the debate and casts those against the Tobacco Products Directive as “idealists” and those in favour as being the “pragmatists”.

Apparently, harm reduction experts such as Robert West and Clive Bates are idealists because they hold political solutions that are “naïve and lacking in credibility” – and yet the pragmatic representatives “are savvier in navigating the political landscape but suspect and dubious due to their connection to Big Tobacco”. It’s evidence that, regardless of level of knowledge, everybody seems to hold an opinion about vaping now. While holding a valid perspective, even if it highlights some areas of naivety, Hasselbalch proves that little has been achieved thus far in educating the wider public arena beyond vapers and health experts themselves.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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