A recent article on Psychology Today highlights the questions many people ask themselves when considering the switch from traditional smoking to vaping. With all the disinformation about the vape industry on the internet it is important to separate fact from fiction. Vaping itself has only been mainstream for about four years. When we were introduced to the industry it was in its infancy with very little information available. Due to the lack of research government agencies, like the FDA, jumped at the opportunity to declare it harmful. Others, like the Royal Institute of Physicians, took an objective point of view and acknowledged the obvious reduction in harm versus the known harm of cigarettes. Everyone can agree more research is needed but those who chose to vape, despite conflicting information, know they feel much healthier vaping as opposed to smoking.
The FDA has all but banned the vape industry from labeling our products as a cessation device. However, they cannot ban ideas and those who think them in their heads are not thought criminals but rather logical humans using the reason we were blessed with by so many philosophers before our time. I encourage all people capable of critical thinking to take the two totally different stances given in the previous paragraph and form your own conclusion. There will not be any US government agency or anti-smoking advocacy groups (paid for by big tobacco) to support your hypothesis but the evidence is sound and you have the right make your own decision.
It's Time for the Vape Community to Grow Up.
Since the vape industry's inception it has gone through major transformations both good and bad. The faces of the industry aren't always the best representation of the whole community and rarely benefit the businesses that operate within the industry. What I mean by this is; We have been led to believe that vaping is for the younger generations when some of us would prefer to reach the older audiences that would benefit from vaping but are intimidated by their younger counterparts who perpetuate an image that an older audience cannot relate to.
Several months ago we were approached by an old friend who was interested in vaping but was not comfortable enough to walk through the door of a vape shop and feel confident they would help him make the transition. The truth is, younger generations are usually more open to change and because of that we embraced the notion of vaping while the older crowd remained skeptical of its effectiveness. However, after testing the waters temperature and knowing it was cool to jump right in we never reached out to welcome others. Instead we tailored an industry to a one-size fits all "idealistic vaper". This is one of the issues that bothers businesses like us the most who would like to extend their outreach but are limited by the perception of what a vaper is supposed to be. Granted, many in leadership roles that run advocacy groups are typically older people but rather than bring more in with their presence they have become the adults in the room.
How do we reach out?
We stop advertising products that could easily blend into a candy store. This practice has hurt the industry more than anything else. Laffy Taffy, bubblegum and gummy bears are for kids. Adults may occasionally enjoy these products but the packaging is intentionally targeted at children. If we adopt these practices are we too advertising to children? Absolutely! The mature adult is not looking to reach into their purse or pocket and pull out a colorful product that looks like something a 5-year old would have gotten in his trick-or-treat bag. It's not an ideal look for a mature adult. Speaking as a mother, I have personally seen my child attracted to products that are advertised in the vape industry. This was the hardest realization in the many years of being in this industry. We must change this practice or we will never be able to convince lawmakers that we aren't advertising to children or teens. Many resort to arguments pointing to liquor bottles advertising childlike flavors. Sure, some of their flavors are questionable but advertising a cupcake flavor for adults (who may like to eat cupcakes) is not equal to designing packaging that looks identical to a cereal box designed by industries that do advertise to children! Cereal is not harmful to a child and they have every right to tailor packaging to the desires of a child but we are offering a product explicitly for adults and we should not adopt these practices. In fact, we should avoid it and openly denounce those who do. This would be the responsible mature thing to do.
I understand this may ruffle some feathers in the industry but speaking truth has that effect on those who deny it. We have never felt that our labels would appeal to a child but we still want to avoid reaching those not old enough to use our products. To accomplish this, we are focusing on branding that does not include bright colors or give a child or teenager any reason to be interested in our products and we encourage others to do the same.