Have Anti-Vaping Campaigns Gone Too Far?

 Have Anti-Vaping Campaigns Gone Too Far?


Double-Dog Dare or Youth Vape Use Prevention?

If you have been watching television or been online recently, you most likely have seen an anti-vaping advertisement. Groups such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Truth Initiative have recently been campaigning about the dangers of vaping across all platforms relentlessly. Their attempts at “hip” and relatable content are laughable at best. When not trying to be “cool”, they often resort to overly exaggerated claims and imaging like this video that shows nicotine attacking your brain in some parasitic form. They were the ones that told us that marijuana would melt us into a pancake and that our dogs would be disappointed in us. Each year these anti-smoker/nicotine campaigners attempt to warn children of the dangers of smoking and vaping, but have these campaigns been successful? Will these groups make the same mistakes of the past? Let’s take a look at some past attempts and see how they did!

Talking, Humanoid, Dog-Detective

If you are old enough to vape, you most likely remember the D.A.R.E. Program. Yes, the ones with that sweet red graffiti logo, that told you to “Just say no!”  They might even have visited your school and got you out of class to attend their assembly. If you were lucky you may even have been visited by one of our favorite celebrities, the one and only, Scruff McGruff. This talking, humanoid, dog-detective made trench coats never look so good! Yet, if you are following Zamplebox it seems that his efforts failed and you began smoking, but it is ok! We are with you and still waiting for all of those people to offer us drugs as Scruff told us to look out for.


Show Me The Numbers

The fact is that as early as 1992, statistics showed that graduates of this program had significantly higher rates of hallucinogenic drug use. In 1995, Joel Brown Ph. D reported to the California Dept. of Education that 40% of students told researchers that they were not influenced by the program at all. This was only compounded by the fact that 70% of the students reported that they had neutral to negative feelings about those delivering the message. Finally, in a 1998 study by the University of Maryland (that was funded by the National Institute of Justice), concluded that “D.A.R.E. does not work to reduce substance use.” Researchers on this project noted again that D.A.R.E graduates were more likely to smoke, drink, and use illegal drugs. In this study, Psychologist Dr. William Colson makes the assertion that this program increased drug awareness so that “as they get a little older, they (students) become very curious about these drugs they've learned about from police officers."" The study in 1998 seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for D.A.R.E. It ultimately led to the program losing federal funding for failing to meet federal requirements proving that it was “research based” and “effective.” 


The Truth Initiative is a non-profit tobacco prevention program with aims of, “achieving a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco.” Yet it seems that they deny any claims that vapor products are helping people reject tobacco, and now have this industry set in their sights. They have created “memorable” advertisements you may have seen yourself. Including, this demon death metal band, “Crank Yanker”-esque puppets, and talking animals, all in attempts to relate to the youth. 

This group began in 1999 and was founded in the result of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). If you are unfamiliar with the MSA, let us summarize it for you. In the mid 90’s states across the nation began to sue tobacco companies for all the years of harm that they knowingly caused. By 1997, it was clear that something needed to be done with over 40 states having pending litigation against Big Tobacco. The resolution was a proposed “global settlement”, which later became the MSA. This settlement resulted in Big Tobacco being forced to pay the states $206 billion over 25 years, with a portion being used to create the Truth Initiative. In exchange, the companies would be freed from further class-action lawsuits. 

See How Much Your State Paid Right HERE

But the real kicker to this lawsuit is that the states are free to use these payments for whatever they please. In fact, the majority of states have only used a small fraction of the payments for youth tobacco control and cessation. This begs the question that if the MSA was created over the many harms caused by tobacco, why are the states not using that money to further prevent them? That brings us to the Truth Initiatives’ most recent campaign, #DITCHJUUL

Please do not do this...

First off, let us note that we get the message that Truth is trying to convey here with this #DITCHJUUL commercial, but the planning and execution fell flat and felt uneducated. We wholeheartedly support keeping JUUL and any vaping products out of the hands of minors, but this commercial shows and recommends potentially dangerous handling and disposal of the lithium ion batteries that JUUL uses in their products (and which are found in most vaping devices). Any lithium battery should be recycled properly at a designated location. Here’s where the Truth Initiative went wrong: the first image of this advertisement immediately shows how clueless they are about these products. The image shows a JUUL device that has been screwed onto a piece of wood, that is attached to a balloon. The clip is very quick but any educated vaper would tell you to NEVER screw, drill, hammer, cut or smash any lithium battery.

Any puncture to a li-ion battery will cause it to immediately vent hot gas, catch fire, swell, and/or explode.  Please check out this link for more battery safety.

But WAIT! There’s MORE!

As a wise man once said, “But WAIT! There’s MORE!” Driving a screw into a battery was just the tip of the screw, pun intended; this clip continues recommending unsafe ways to #DITCHJUUL. A few of these include jumping into a pool with the device, being drug behind a car, and being thrown off a building. Each one of these activities shows a complete disregard for safety, and let’s not forget these ads are for children. Is recommending a child to possibly blow-up and/or burn themselves the answer to preventing youth use of a vape product? Furthermore, it is very unfortunate Truth went this route. The #DITCHJUUL hashtag links to many videos of youths ditching their JUUL just as was portrayed in the commercial. Videos like this continue to show how out-of-touch these groups are with vaping products and the youth of today. 

Smarty Pants

Kids these days are smarter than your average bird. They have grown up in the internet era and know how to use it. It is very tough for tobacco control groups to demonize nicotine products, when a child can pull out their phone, research nicotine, to find out “Nicotine use as a tool for quitting smoking has a good safety history” and “The Surgeon General of the United States indicates that nicotine does not cause cancer.” This takes away some of the trust with these groups immediately. We need to have honest conversations with these children. Campaigns such as D.A.R.E and #DITCHJUUL are missing the mark. 

But How Do We Stop Youth Access?

Beginning an addiction to smoking or any substance is a very complex issue that is rooted with many different reasons for starting. The pressure to “fit in” or “be cool” in front of their friends seems to be the most commonly mentioned in the media. But there are many more reasons that we have heard from our customers that need to be talked about with children. Talking to children about smoking, vaping, drinking or any drug is an important conversation to be had. The Mayo Clinic has an easy guide on how to start the conversation right here.

Maybe instead of trying to be cool, hip, and market to the younger generation we should just try and talk to them more. Open lines of communication that are safe spaces for kids to share their worries, fears, and troubles. 

Let us finally break this broken cycle and try something new! Go find your Legislators here

SHARE your story and tell them to OPPOSE any flavored vapor or online sales ban!  

This fight is not yet over!

Stay tuned for more vape news like this. 

Our next video will be covering all the ins and outs of the looming PMTA's!

Check out our most recent video on how to spot dangerous vapes right here.


Jun 22nd 2022


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