Vaping News

Warning: Vape Expos Have Stuff

A pair of researchers are worried that vape events have things – and encourage vapers to try them.

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A pair of researchers, one of which has a history of not warming to vaping’s role in tobacco harm reduction, visited a vape exposition. They found that ecigs and eliquids, mods and atomisers, were being trialled and sold to vapers (all of legal age) – as advertised on the event literature. This, apparently, is a big problem.

Their paper is published this month in the British Medical Journal’s (BMJ) Tobacco Control journal. In it, the pair lay out their fears that vape events are an “emerging public health issue”. 

Their critical eye was passed over the 2017 World Vapor Expo in Miami. They write: “Hundreds of companies, retailers, distributors and wholesalers were represented. The first day consisted of networking opportunities for exhibitors and vendors, and the next 2 days were dedicated for the public. Guests were encouraged to socialise and try new flavours.”

It is fair to say that Ziyad Ben Taleb is not convinced by vaping and its potential to disrupt addiction to smoking tobacco cigarettes. In 2014, he locked horns with leading harm reduction expert Riccardo Polosa, taking issue with Polosa’s call for evidence-based regulations, saying: “As more young people are drawn to e-cigarettes' product design, promotional activities, associated safety claims, and cheap price, the number will only increase. Many flavours of e-cigarettes are available, and they are marketed with several colours, by celebrities, on the internet, and through social media, which leaves little doubt about which age group is being targeted.”

What was the evidence Taleb used to back up his statement?

He cited two research papers; one bearing Stanton Glantz’s name and the other from the anti-vape serial fibber Martin McKee. He wrote, “we declare that we have no conflicts of interest,” but the choice of references means that this is either a distortion of the truth or clear indication of bias.

Taleb has previously conducted research linked to the pharmaceutical industry and nicotine patches, and (last year) he launched an attack on claims of efficacy made by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos.

This is the first time Mohammad Ebrahimi Kalan has worked on the subject of vaping.

Seemingly, it is bad that “These conventions expose attendees to a much wider variety of products than are available in local vape shops.”

The pair are concerned that vapers seeing other vapers vaping reinforces social norms that vaping is OK, and that “heavily promoting the use of potentially untested, unregulated products at vaping conventions may have serious public health implications.”

The pair were desperately worried that they did not get their ID checked, to prove they were not underage: “Despite the convention website stating that attendees had to be at least 18 years old to attend, we attended the World Vapor Expo in Miami without being checked for age verification.”

It is shocking that two grown men with beard growth were not asked to prove they weren’t 16 or 17. They continue: “Marketing e-liquids by distributing candies that appeal to youth may pose a public health issue” – in an event for adults only.

They are worried about things being too sexy too: “Many vendors hired young attractive women to promote their products and persuade attendees to try new flavours. Such marketing tactics can attract and encourage youth who are otherwise nicotine naïve to try e-cigarettes and consequently develop nicotine dependence.”

Again, the pair failed to point out quite how youths desperate to see an inch of flesh were going to manage this feat. The team feel that the vape industry needs on-going monitoring. This may be the case, but Kalan and Taleb have proven that they aren’t the people to do it.

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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