“There is a lot of discussion in the US about e-cigarette use by youth. The Surgeon General recently released a report sounding the alarm about adolescents using e-cigarettes. Numerous publications and statements from health institutes, such as the CDC, have long supported that e-cigarette use is increasing among youth and is becoming a public health problem,” writes Farsalinos in a blog post where he slams some juice makers as “irresponsible”.
He is correct. POTV noted the growing trend for juices crossing the line of acceptability last year. A spate of liquids using cartoon characters and stolen branding lent credence to anti-vape campaigners’ arguments that the industry is marketing directly to children.
In that case, UK Trading Standards seized the illegal bottles and packaging from Ecig shops in Huyton, Kirkby and Prescot. The use of Simpsons-style and Pokémon characters combined with Krispy Kreme and McDonalds packaging to leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Farsalinos is upset after a person sent pictures from an American vape expo to him: “One would expect a ‘clever’ industry to take measures to minimize the negative publicity, produce best quality possible products, minimize appeal to youth, strictly follow a “no sales to youth” policy and take every necessary measure to create an image of a responsible and serious industry with consumer responsibility. However, I was really shocked when I received yesterday some photos of products (liquids) from a very recent vape expo in the US.”
Some people argue that it is only a small percentage of manufacturers behaving in such a fashion. Not so, according to Doctor F: “My very credible source told me that 30-40% of displayed products in that US vapexpo were of similar packaging. I wonder if there is anyone who thinks that the use of cartoons and funny graphics and the names of these products is not going to be perceived as appealing, and an attempt to actively promote the products, to youth.”
Phil Busardo commented: “I’ve been saying it, Dimitris’ been saying it, many have been saying it, and now Dr Farsalinos is saying it.” Busardo is referring to the time he visited the New Jersey vape disaster. It was only a couple of juices at the time, but it’s transpired to be the tip of an iceburg.
Not everybody is convinced it’s a problem at all. Twitter user @Luc_Van_Daele points out it was an 18+ venue and event so no children were there to be targeted – and, he argues, if they were then it’s the parents and not the industry being irresponsible.
This doesn’t wash for Farsalinos: “In my opinion, this is absolutely unacceptable and a clear indication of irresponsible behaviour and marketing tactics. Even if there is no such genuine intention, none will be convinced. This is irresponsible behaviour not only from the producers, but also from the retailers who sell these products and from the vapers who buy these products. Besides the regulators, who will do their job, the responsible part of the e-cigarette industry must immediately target and expel these members, while retailers should request the removal of such labels and packaging design or deny getting such products for retail.”