Vaping Company Accused Of Leveraging Coronavirus To Market To Teens
Lawmakers Demand FDA Ban Product, Punish Company
The current coronavirus crisis has unfortunately brought out a variety of bad actors seeking to capitalize on the chaos. From companies shamelessly profiting off of relief efforts to questionable marketing practices exploiting the circumstances, there are many seeking to leverage our uncertain situation for their own benefit.
Puff Bar, an e-cigarette that exploded in popularity after exploiting a loophole in the federal flavor ban to continue to sell flavored offerings, has been accused of directly targeting teens quarantined at home amid the pandemic. Lawmakers are now calling for the FDA to ban the e-cigarette, as well as fine the company for their allegedly illegal marketing practices.
There are additional companies accused of leveraging the current coronavirus crisis for their own financial gain as well, such as Bidi Vapor. The company recently drew fire from a variety of critics following a post on Instagram featuring the caption “A Bidi Stick a day keeps the pulmonologist away.”
A variety of anti-vaping and public health organizations have decried the marketing efforts, labeling the practices as outrageous and an exploitation of a pandemic that has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands the world over. Many are calling for bans of these companies’ products, and for heavy fines to be levied against the companies themselves.
Terribly Targeting Teens
Puff Bar, the popular new e-cigarette that launched last year, has been the largest beneficiary of a loophole in the federal flavor ban allowing exemptions for disposable devices. In addition to their popular flagship product, the company followed it with the launch of Puff Krush, disposable flavored pods compatible with the Juul vaporizer.
“Puff Bar is quickly becoming the new Juul,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., stated in a letter written to the FDA. The chairman of the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy accused the vaporizer manufacturer of exploiting the pandemic to market to children.
To back his claim, he included a copy of a Puff Bar advertisement featuring the backdrop of a bedroom, which stated, “We know that the inside-vibes have been … quite a challenge. Stay sane with Puff Bar this solo-break. We know you’ll love it. It’s the perfect escape from the back-to-back zoom calls, parental texts, and WFH stress”. He believes “this advertisement is designed to convince children home from school to vape in their rooms without their parents noticing,” according to the letter. An additional advertisement included in the claim features a woman blowing clouds of vapor, which suggested that the Puff Bar was a great way to relax over spring break.
“It is an outrage that during a pandemic that attacks the lungs, Puff Bar is freely targeting our nation’s youth, putting their lives at even greater risk,” said Robin Koval, chief executive and president of the Truth Initiative. “These egregious ads from Puff Bar are the latest example.”
The outrage over these marketing practices has led to lawmakers and anti-vaping activists calling for a complete ban of the product, as well as massive fines, levied against the company. Puff Bar sells approximately 300,000 disposable e-cigarettes a week, generating at least $3 million in weekly retail sales.
Truth About Vaping
While there has been a great deal of misinformation going around surrounding vaping, there is a wealth of peer-reviewed scientific evidence surrounding the efficacy of vaping as a smoking cessation device and reduced-harm alternative to tobacco. One such study published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences found that vapers have a 57,000 times lower risk of developing cancer compared to smokers.
Of course, many studies are noting the reduced risk of e-cigarettes, such as a landmark study conducted by Public Health England. Researchers for the country’s top public health agency found vaping to be 95% safer than smoking, a figure the agency routinely stands behind.
Not only is vaping a proven reduced-harm alternative to tobacco, but current data shows it may be the greatest tool available to aid in smoking cessation. Researchers from the University of Louisville found vaping to be the most effective smoking cessation device available, even more than going cold-turkey.
Furthermore, there is no evidence of long-term harm or risk to users of vapor products. A report from the National Academy of Sciences that not only found that vaping poses a reduced risk of harm compared to smoking, but that there were no long-term health effects associated with prolonged usage.
It is unfortunate that a small handful of opportunistic bad actors are responsible for the tarnishing of an industry. Just as the vaping industry is starting to recover following misattributed lung injuries, false coronavirus complication claims, and the general retail hit following worldwide lockdown procedures, another scandal rocks it to its very foundation.
Members of the industry and community must hold these bad actors accountable for their actions. Complacency is complicity regardless of intent, silence by the industry only gives the appearance of endorsement and support.
What are your thoughts regarding certain companies’ marketing practices leveraging the coronavirus pandemic? Do you believe this is appropriate? Do you feel these companies were explicitly targeting teens, or do you feel their message was misconstrued? We here at ChurnMag would love to know what you think down in the comments below. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest and greatest vaping news and reviews!
(Image Credit – Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/images/id-4937553/)