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The following is a statement from Jason Healy, President of blu Cigs:
Flavored cigarettes and to a lesser extent, electronic cigarettes, are a topic of much debate, so I’d like to examine both sides of the argument and add some more perspective to the discussion.
First, a question for each side – slightly tongue in cheek, but pertinent to the discussion nonetheless. At what age does one cease liking flavors? It may sound silly but I’ll ask again. At what point does one stop liking chocolate, mint, strawberry or bubble gum? The obvious answer to the question is, never (in most cases) does one cease liking flavors. But more important than the question is the answer, which is core to the solution, and the main argument against anti-smoking groups’ claims.
Let’s remove cigarettes from the discussion for the moment, and place the same scrutiny on all products intended for adult consumption. As an adult consumer myself, let’s take a look at alcohol. Alcohol is not intended for children and has similar restrictions to cigarettes when it comes to sales and advertising.
If I place the same scrutiny on alcohol manufacturers that anti-smoking groups place on cigarette companies, then Samuel Adams and Smirnoff are the most blatant examples of companies attempting to attract children to products intended for adults. Let’s be clear – I am NOT saying these companies are attempting to market their products to children.
However, if we are simply attacking marketers of adult products based on their use of flavors, then the same must hold true for Samuel Adams and Smirnoff – with products infused with flavors like orange, blueberry, marshmallow, cinnamon, chocolate and strawberry. Aren’t these also the same flavors available in candy bars, breakfast cereals and other products intended for mostly children, and marketed as such?
Now I know many out there will say: yes, alcohol companies are also guilty of the same tactics. I disagree, but lets assume for a moment they are correct. Are we then saying that companies like K-Y are blatantly marketing to kids as well? They offer their jelly in similar flavors like chocolate and strawberry.
The point I am trying to make is that the use of flavors is not an attempt to attract children. Flavors are way of life from cradle to the grave. So if flavors are not the magic ‘child’ magnet, what leg do anti-smoking groups have to stand on? They’ll continue to use flavors as their big ‘ah-ha moment’ against cigarette companies because it’s ‘easy’ and doesn’t require too much work. It sounds overly simple but yet it’s true.
That’s because the real issue here is how and where products are marketed that are intended for adults. At the end of the day the ‘anti’ side of any argument will always gravitate to the easiest way to attack their adversary, while maximizing their ability to get others on their side. Put yourself in the shoes of the ‘anti’ groups and think about the huge undertaking of combating alcohol and cigarette companies.
How do you get anyone to see your side of an argument or more importantly to agree with your viewpoint? It’s simple – say the opposite side is hurting children! Gold! You win! No one wants to hear the anti-smoking groups’ point of view if they merely take the approach of trying to change the choices of consenting adults for their own health. But claim someone is hurting a poor defenseless child? Chances are you’ll get few more ears and a lot more wins.
I am in 100% support of any regulation or restriction that prevents a child from gaining access to cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and alcohol. But I take exception when such regulations attempt to limit the personal rights, choices and ultimately, freedom of an adult. I also take issue with governments and regulators attempting to create laws that are essentially parenting decisions.
They would be well advised to stop taking on a job that should rest on the shoulders of the village and not the King, and undertake the far more difficult task of educating parents and adults so that they can protect their children.