Adrian Barich: Marketing campaigns fooling kids into…


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adrian-barich:-marketing-campaigns-fooling-kids-into…

I saw a primary school student vaping the other day. An 11-year-old on his way home.

You know that reaction meme called the Blinking Guy? That was me as I walked past the kid, who was still in his school uniform.

It caused me to google vaping and I quickly learnt why the young fella was playing with fire, so to speak.

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The e-liquids used in e-cigarettes are often sweet-flavoured products marketed as gummy bear, fruit, popcorn, peanut butter, cookies ‘n’ cream and even Red Bull and Skittles.

Now it made sense. That’s their strategy. Use flavours that are highly appealing to young people and entice youngsters to try this new product by altering attitudes.

Some e-liquids are even sold in boxes resembling children’s juice cartons.

And the vapes themselves are designed to deceive and encourage stealth vaping by resembling USB drives, asthma inhalers, pens and even hoodie drawstrings. On top of that, young people are targeted using social media sites such as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram.

Young people hate thinking someone is making a fool of them, so imagine if they thought they were getting conned into a lifelong addiction for the sole purpose of making money.

The message being if you want to be cool, attractive and edgy, e-cigarettes are for you.

No wonder the vaping cloud is getting bigger around our schools.

One possible approach for those of us charged with caring for young people is to counter the messages mentioned above with the question “are you being manipulated?”.

Young people hate thinking someone is making a fool of them, so imagine if they thought they were getting conned into a lifelong addiction for the sole purpose of making money.

Encouraging kids to think critically about e-cigarette marketing is a useful tactic.

Of course, our first reaction is a lecture or heavy criticism but as we all know that often has the opposite effect.

Another tactic in this war with the e-cigarettes marketing is to debunk the myth that the vapour they are sucking in is just like the steam they see in the shower. The aerosol created by vapes is not “just water vapour”.

In some ways, though, as parents and significant others we are fighting with one hand tied behind our backs. It occurred to me to enquire exactly where these vapes and their e-liquids were being bought from and I was staggered to learn that teenagers mostly got them through the mail.

Somehow, it’s OK to post these products to kids under 18. Call me naïve but that did surprise me. This is where I get a lecture of my own, I suppose. Be aware of what’s going on around you.

Get to know your postie.


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