The popularity of vaping has been growing over recent decades, ever since various public health authorities have recognized e-cigs as a harm-reduction substitute for traditional tobacco products. However, this does not mean there’s no harm at all to users, including teenagers. Indeed, the FDA has published numerous regulations designed to prevent and prohibit minors from obtaining e-cigs. Accordingly, it is imperative that vaping manufacturers take responsibility for keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of adolescents.
1. Upgrading the Child Lock Function of E-cig Devices
A popular method employed in the e-cig sector is to equip devices with a child-resistant lock. Usually, vaping manufacturers implement child locks in one of two ways: structural or electronic locks. With a structural lock ring it is generally impossible to activate an e-cigarette without pressing or rotating the lock ring. However, this type of structural lock is mainly employed only on e-cigarettes that adopt a rotary jointing method. It is worth noting that some of these structural locks are designed to meet the EU TPD regulations. An electronic lock controls the device via a smartphone application, whereby users can switch off the e-cig through its Bluetooth connection function. In this way, there are options for parents to prevent their children from casually trying e-cigs out of curiosity.
2. Avoiding the Use of Child-Centered Packaging
Responsible e-cig manufacturers must widely eschew packaging with youth appeal, for instance including the use of bright colors, cartoon characters and fashionable designs. Those types of packaging are more likely to prompt the curiosity of young people and lead them to think of vaping as very cool and exciting.
In contrast, manufacturers should use simple and business-like package designs to avoid providing that initial visual stimulus which may attract younger people.
3. Canceling Youth-Targeted Marketing Policies
Vaping manufacturers must reject the creation of misleading advertisements for marketing e-cigarettes to the youth. Studies have looked closely at the type of content contained within e-cigarette video ads to measure over 40 features known to be appealing to youth, finding that all of the e-cigarette ads studied included at least some type of youth-appealing content involving solid emotional appeal. (Marketing To The Youth Of America: How E-Cigarette Companies Target Young People.) Those vaping advertisements usually portrayed happiness, friendship, and success to appeal to customers by discussing the benefits of e-cigarettes over tobacco cigarettes. Younger viewers of such content are likely to have not yet developed the sophisticated discernment to conclude that vaping might hurt their health, but rather gain the impression that vaping might bring them relaxation and entertainment, and be a way of socializing among teenagers.
In summary, it is vital that e-cig manufacturers must stop using these youth-appealing marketing tactics to their advantage. They must develop a solid sense of social responsibility, improve internal electronic design features and comply with the relevant packaging regulations of each country or region to make the e-cigarette market environment healthier.
Marketing To The Youth Of America: How E-Cigarette Companies Target Young People, June 28, 2021, Addiction Prevention Coalition.