Obviously, I’m a big supporter of electronic cigarettes. Personally, I believe they are a safer alternative to tobacco which could save the lives of millions of people if they didn’t face this heavy opposition from both sides of the fence (anti-smoking groups, the FDA and the World Health Organization on one hand, pharmaceutical companies and Big Tobacco, on the other). But despite showing great promise as a smoking cessation and reduction aid, there’s a really ugly side to e-cigarettes – the one that has to do with marketing and making money by praying on uneducated consumers.
Just a few days ago, Spinfuel, a respected online e-cigarette magazine, did a story on the deception and corruption in the vaping industry. You probably already know this is a very fast-growing business, with new brands being created virtually every day, and I really have no problems with that, as long as they play by the rules. Sure, they’re all looking to make a profit by simply stamping a brand on devices that they get from the same three e-cigarette manufacturing plants in China, but as long as their prices remain decent and they help someone quit smoking, I’m actually ready to lend my support. But in order to maximize their profits and convince desperate smokers to buy their stuff, a lot of companies resort to a series of low-down tricks without being held accountable. The Spinfuel article focused on V2 Cigs and Bull Smoke, but they aren’t the only ones making ridiculous claims about their e-cigs. I’m not even going to talk about these two companies (I’ve never even tried Bull Smoke, but I’ve reviewed V2 Cigs), because this is a general problem.
Roughly every e-cigarette company out there mentions their superior technology makes them the better choice compared to the competition, when in reality many of them use the same identical e-cig model, but with a different name on it, and sometimes different-color LEDs and different battery threading. I’m not saying all e-cigs are the same, because they are not. There are a lot of different models to choose from, different generations, different cartomizers, and so on. What I’m trying to tell you is a lot of these companies claim to have proprietary superior technology to the competition, with some going as far as claiming they are “the originator of the unique 2-piece design electronic cigarette that provides smokers with an exciting new alternative”. Not to mention half of these companies claim to sell the the best/premiere/most popular electronic cigarette on the market, without providing any evidence of that. How can they all be no.1 at the same time, and most importantly, why isn’t anyone doing anything about this?
Because the e-cigarette industry is yet unregulated and everyone can do as they please, as far as they abide by general commercial law. No one can hold these companies responsible for deceiving buyers into thinking they’re spending their hard-earned cash on a generic electronic cigarette they could buy five times cheaper from a different vendor, or for using scam free-trial offers to actually bleed customers dry for a standard e-cigarette standard kit. As far as they don’t use the “safer/healthier alternative to smoking” argument, they are pretty much free to do as they please to promote their products. Sure there are respectable brands out there that don’t stoop to dirty tricks to make a profit, but they’re no match for big players with deep pockets and aggressive marketing strategies. There are companies and even newly-formed organisations pushing for a self-regulation of the e-cigarette industry, but I wonder if that’s in the best interest of the vaping community. With so much money at stake, I doubt it… Hopefully, with time, as the industry matures, this kind of practices will be a thing of the past.
In closing, I just want to make it clear I was not referring to the actual electronic cigarettes these shady companies sell. Some of them are actually pretty good, it’s the way they are promoted that I have a problem with.