Senator Jay Rockefeller hates e-cigs, loses touch with reality

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Confused ManSen. Jay Rockefeller, the blowhard, idiot and serial hater of electronic cigarettes, has done it again. He’s written for the Huffington post – which has increasingly become some kind of propaganda journal anyway against electronic cigarettes – and his article shows just how out of touch he is on the subject. He makes comments that present as blinkered and old-fashioned, and even shows he doesn’t really understand the nature of marketing and advertising. Its a ridiculous article.

We are concerned that the Huffington Post is stooping to these new levels when it comes to electronic cigarettes. This man really has no idea about advertising or marketing. Witness this paragraph:

We discovered that techniques used by some companies included advertising on television and radio; advertising in print media including magazines popular with youth; online and social media outreach; sponsorship of sporting and entertainment events; use of celebrities to promote the products; and manufacturing and marketing products with candy, dessert, and fruit flavors. We also found that companies varied widely when it came to self-regulation around youth marketing, such as voluntarily imposing age requirements for accessing content on popular social media channels.

Here, the senator talks about some research he carried out with his buddies. What is alarming is that he lists marketing and advertising strategies and channels that are simply the obvious choice for any company that wishes to make money. How can you possibly rail against a company that dares to use social media to sell products? If we were to talk about social media, for example much worse has happened on sites like Facebook.

Lets not forget that Facebook is responsible, albeit slightly indirectly, for teenage suicide and for hate crimes. The least of the problems here is a possibility that someone might see an ad or post on Facebook for electronic cigarettes. This simply shows that the man has no idea about the reach and the power of social media.

Let’s dig a little deeper here.

Rockefeller makes an idiotic statement about companies including advertising on television and radio. By implication, he is saying that television and radio are direct channels for the influence of children. Television and radio do not automatically influence kids. And how about that sponsorship of sporting events? How dare electronic cigarette companies sponsor sporting events?

And if a company does not self regulate to the extent that senator Rockefeller wants them to, it is probably only because they are part of a growing industry, and self-regulation is a complex art that requires maturity. This all takes time, and many electronic cigarette companies are finding their way in this regard.

We are not going to mention the head of a certain regulatory body here, but this is the old gateway argument once again, if a little more focused on marketing. It would be interesting, in fact, for senator Rockefeller and his esteemed research team to canvas young people who use electronic cigarettes and ask them to what extent advertising and marketing contributed to their taking up the habit.

There is also actually no need for senator Rockefeller to pretend to be impartial by including this paragraph in his editorial:

Representatives of leading e-cigarette companies also testified regarding their marketing practices. These executives firmly stated that their intention was only to market to adults, publicly promised to avoid use of cartoon characters in advertising, and expressed willingness to consider additional voluntary limitations on marketing that could reach young people.

Because right after that he talks about how he is watching electronic cigarette manufacturers very closely. He seems to think that manufacturers are tainted with evil, and wanting to capture youth through their marketing.

The marketing is actually not the issue any more. The problem resides with tobacco cigarettes. For probably around 99% of young vapers, electronic cigarettes are a way out of tobacco. Once tobacco is got rid of, a whole section of young electronic cigarette users will not be given the chance to develop.

Take away the call of tobacco and there will be fewer young people wanting to vape. This is common sense, but we don’t expect Rockefeller to recognise that. He seems to think that television and radio have a direct, Vulcan-strength grip on the minds of the countries’ youth.

He is a scary man. During that hearing he referenced Gloria Swanson as an attractive smoker who children may want to emulate. Chances are, most of the people in the room couldn’t remember Gloria Swanson, never mind the youth of today.

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