This post was originally published on May 29, 2014.
Anyone who’s ventured inside a vape shop knows the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes comes in more flavors than Baskin Robbins ice cream. In fact, many of them may be confused for desserts themselves: Banana Pudding? Lemon Chiffon Pie? Thin Mint? The potion masters behind the e-juice craze are tapped into America’s addiction to sugar and are capitalizing on it like crazy. Pretty much anything delicious—yes, including bacon—has spawned its own vape flavor (although apparently the latter is disappointing unless you’ve got a thing for “burnt tire and matches” or want to feel “like a dog ate a pound of bacon and is now breathing in [your]face”). This just proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter how trendy kale is right now, nobody really likes it —if they did, they’d be selling kale-flavored nicotine.
The Real Sugars Are Not Amused
But the vape industry’s Willy Wonka-style branding has crossed a line for some sweets-makers. Now the Girl Scouts, Tootsie Roll, and General Mills (of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and all the other cereal your mom never bought for you fame) are sending cease-and-desist letters warning vaping companies to stop hijacking their brands. They don’t want to see their venerable product names being used to sell an addictive drug, especially to children. Of course, this presumes anybody would want to smoke anything that tastes like a Tootsie Roll, but hey, different strokes.
Sampling All the Flavors
For tobacco cigarettes (remember those?), sweet flavors have long been banned precisely for this reason. It’s a valid argument. E-cigs are pitched as a tool to help smokers quit, but it’s hard to imagine that someone trying to replicate the Lucky Strike experience is going to opt for something called Tutti Frutti Gumballs. On the other hand, once you’ve got your vape pen in hand, you might as well try all the novelty flavors, right? Meanwhile, nobody seems at all bothered about the fact that vaporizers on the market look a lot like mini-lightsabers, which is as good a ploy to entice 11-year-olds as I’ve ever seen.
Many of the nation’s 1,500 e-juice makers have already begun changing their flavor names to appease the brands. It’s simple enough to keep the “Cinnamon Toast” and drop the “Crunch”—at which point General Mills’ case would evaporate. But while ditching the brand names may stave off lawsuits from powerful sweets-makers, it doesn’t change the fact that vape shops still promise the pure imagination of a candy store.
Not Really All That Sweet
The recreation center where my recovery home group meets recently added a “no vaping” symbol to the door, right next to its “no smoking” one. Yep, the vaping industry has officially grown up. Now it has to play by the rules. It’s only a matter of time before the notoriously litigious Starbucks discovers The Plume Room cribbed their coveted Frappuccino name. In the meantime, maybe someone should let the Girl Scouts know that they already are peddling an addictive toxin to children. I’d wager General Mills and Tootsie Roll know it already.
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