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The CADPH Marketing to Kids?

by on June 18, 2015

I stand by my position; the vape industry does not target kids. Maybe the California Department of Public Health (CADPH) does. Even if it is not their intention, it’s almost impossible to prove one way or the other. How can anyone target a specific demographic and exclude another with 100 percent confidence? Is it even possible?

Check out this post by Stefan Didak on the Not Blowing Smoke Facebook Group:

Over at ‪#‎notblowingsmoke‬ we get a lot of e-mail. And quite a lot of those are aimed at the STILL Blowing Smoke campaign. It’s a good thing concerned citizens are reaching out to us, though. Because it allows us to spend some quality one on one time as part of our educational mission.
Here’s an example of one of those e-mails…
PLEASE stop playing the commercial using the song “Lollipop” and pictures of e-cigarettes/cigarettes. My 4 year old keeps asking me if they’re candy after seeing the commercial playing that song!!! This after I have convinced him that cigarettes are disgusting. Please stop playing this and any other commercials that even mockingly portray cigarettes or e-cigarettes in a positive light. It is confusing for my son.
Thank you.
Which is wonderful because it allows us to engage with the public out there in a polite and friendly manner, like this…
Dear Caterina,
Thank you for expressing your concern with the propaganda campaign unleashed by the California Department of Public Health in which they are attempting to make vapor products appeal to minors by using colorful and crafty, almost subliminal, imagery combined with a sound track that is clearly aimed to attract the attention of children. We completely agree with you that this needs to stop. Especially considering that this $7 MILLION campaign is being paid for by all of our tax money (out of a budget of $75 MILLION for the next 5 years). This is totally unacceptable and this form of marketing to children, of a product that is clearly intended for adult smokers, needs to stop.
I do, however, need to inform you, that your e-mail has reached the wrong e-mail address. You were likely intending to contact the people behind the STILL Blowing Smoke campaign instead of the NOT Blowing Smoke campaign. As you will likely agree, our commercials and awareness campaign does not mirror anything like the kind of marketing to minors that the California Department of Public Health and Tobacco Free CA are engaging in.

I’ve seen comments on Reddit that the recent “marketing to kids” debate should stop. Some people think that it is a dead issue only causing a rift in the vaping community. I don’t agree. I think that there should be discussion. People in the community are taking what the opposition is saying and repeating it. That strengthens the anti-vaping people’s position, not ours.

Some argue that the only thing that matters is perception. Should we make changes based on every ridiculous claim they make? I don’t think so. Should we take them into consideration and discuss the issues? Yes. Changing e-liquid labels may seem like the “low-hanging fruit” issue for us to fix, but it may also be the bait. We should be very careful.

Shouldn’t we be fighting for our what we believe to be true? I do believe we should stop copyright infringement, but “marketing to kids” is vague. You can say that anything and everything is marketing to kids. The slope is slippery and we should refuse to climb it. It could lead to: “flavors target kids,” “well designed devices attract teens,” “Instagram marketing targets minors.”

The focus should be about preventing vapor products from being accessible to minors. We have always held the position that shops should not sell to minors. We block minors from accessing our social media accounts. We report minors who are sharing photos and videos of themselves vaping. Let’s go on the offensive and discuss what and who we stand for. Otherwise we play into the hands of our opponents.

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