Vapor Shark posted a picture of the billboard to its Facebook page and immediately sparks frustration with some members of the e-cig community. The concern was that the ad played exactly into the hands of anti-smoking fanatics hellbent on arguing that electronic cigarette ads were targeting children. Others simply found it irresponsible to use a children’s icon for the ad regardless of what opponents might say.
But it didn’t take long for anti-smoking groups to spot the ad. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has been fighting against electronic cigarettes since finding out about them with almost no consideration for the facts or the possibility of e-cigs. They look like smoking, they must be as bad as smoking, they seem to think. If nothing else, e-cigs represent a pretty powerful knock against the prohibitionist approach the group takes.
“When e-cigarette companies start shamelessly using Santa Claus to peddle their products, it’s clear the FDA needs to act quickly to regulate e-cigarettes and take steps to prevent their marketing and sale to kids.”
Granted, this is one instance we’ve seen across the whole of the U.S. (which is believe to contain between 200 and 300 e-cig companies now) which Campaign is blowing up into e-cigarette companies shamelessly using Santa, but it is difficult to take a moral high ground in favor of advertising such as this. Is it irresponsible? Maybe. Should it be result in industry-wide ad bans? Probably not.
At least this spotlight is a bit more legitimate than the one shown on EJuiceMonkeys a bit ago which argued the company used a cartoon monkey logo (one that didn’t appear anywhere other than the company’s website, Facebook, and Twitter feed) to appeal to kids. That company doesn’t even do advertising. This Vapor Shark billboard, however, is on interstate 95, indiscriminately visible to every man, woman, and child that rides by.
We’ve already got an e-liquid manufacturing standards organization. Do we also need an electronic cigarettes advertising responsibility committee?What do you think?