Human stupidity

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Human stupidity

“Only two things are infinite,” said Albert Einstein, “The universe and human stupidity. But I’m not sure about the universe.” Happily, I can confirm that while the universe now seems likely to be finite, human stupidity is as boundless as Einstein always believed.

I’ve just reported a vape shop to Trading Standards.

This is not something that makes me particularly happy, but I believe it needed to be done. If we can’t act responsibly as a community we will make ourselves easy targets for any public health nutter with some spare time and a grudge.

Last night the vape shop in question announced, on their Facebook page, that they were now selling “Pokéjuice” at £15 for a 60ml bottle. This is wrong on so many levels I could write about it all week, but here’s the short version:

  • Pokémon characters are the intellectual property of Nintendo, a huge Japanese company. Branding a product with Pokémon characters is intellectual property theft (which incidentally, as a writer, I absolutely hate). It’s likely to get you in a lot of trouble with some very expensive lawyers.
  • Thanks to the TPD vendors can no longer just start selling a new product. They have until next May to sell off stocks of existing products, but any new one has to get approval. As this one comes in a non-compliant 60ml bottle I can safely say it hasn’t been approved. Yes, the TPD is something else I absolutely hate; nevertheless it’s the law, and if vendors flout the law they hand ammunition to those who want the industry shut down.
  • It is very easy to argue that Pokémon-branded liquids are being marketed at children. Personally I don’t buy that; plenty adults like Pokémon, too, and I have no reason to suspect that this vendor would sell to children anyway. However, in the current climate, this is a spectacularly stupid piece of marketing. If you’re under the spotlight you don’t get your dong out and start playing with it.

I made clear on the vendor’s Facebook page last night that these products needed to be gone by this morning. Today, I asked if they were gone. I got no reply, but several other people commented that they had bought them. So a few minutes ago I called Trading Standards, then sent them an email with some screenshots as evidence. I made sure they knew that I was doing this as a vaping advocate who believed we could – and should – police ourselves. Will they take action? Who knows? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

So I realise that this is going to be pretty controversial. Some of you are going to hate me for it. That’s fine; I’ve been hated by much worse people than you, and I lived to tell the tale. I’ll survive your dislike – and, if I see another vendor doing something as stupid as this, I’ll report them too. If we want to be treated as adults we need to act like adults. And if we don’t want the likes of ASH running things for us, we need to show that we can run them ourselves.


  • I left this comment on a thread on Farcebook which also applies here:

    “There’s a whole bunch of ‘public health’ & tobacco control rhetoric about “marketing to kids” and “enticing a new generation” (and all that bollocks) that *anything* like this (be it blatant IP infringement or simply just making it obvious kid-like marketing) should be nipped in the bud. There’s already “research” (and I always use that term loosely) documenting juices that are supposedly “kid attractive”.

    We do *not* need to give them more ammunition to impose even more draconian measures on the industry then there already are.

    Dealing with it is another matter – we as consumers could approach the vendor to say “oi, just stop that shit” (paraphrasing 😉 ) and 9 times out of 10 we’ll get a big FO Tablet in response. That only leaves more “official” channels – an industry body or failing that Trading Standards.

    Will that cause ugliness? Of course it will and frankly there’s no way around that. There’s a case in the US where a juice maker was pretty damn stupid – one of the advocacy groups (NBS I think) approached them and had a lengthy talk and the maker rebranded. None of the UK advocacy folks have that kind of leverage on our own vendors. But a lesson needs to be taught that this kind of shenanigans won’t be tolerated when the industry is under the bloody microscope.”

  • John Summers

    Have to say mate, I agree with you. I’ve reported stores/makers for stupid stuff too.

  • Barbara E

    I fully agree with you about the Pokemon connection but – in all fairness – just because a given vape store advertises a ‘new’ liquid, it might just mean it’s new ‘to that store’. That particular flavor might have been sold elsewhere for months/years.

    I was also going to add that the size of the bottle has nothing to do with whether their compliant or not but realized in time that you’re in England. So England is complying with the EU standards, at least for now??

    • FergusReturns

      For now the UK is still an EU member. In any case, the TPD was enacted by a law passed in parliament, so there’s an actual British law on the books that this is in violation of. It does seem that this brand has only hit the UK in the past few days, going by the number of shops who’ve just started stocking it.

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  • dansus

    Quite right too.

    I had a similar conversation with a new retailer in Manchester in the last few days, i had to explain the virtues of being a responsible retailer if he wants to stay in business for the long term.

  • Bill Miller

    Here in the states, Phillip Morris just put out a new brand of analog in a pink and white box with a picture of a cartoon kitten on the front. Theyr’e calling it Hello Kitty. If that isn’t directed at kid’s, what is? The FDA is doing nothing! BIG CIG does just what they want with no consequences, money talks!

    • FergusReturns

      No, they didn’t. That image was created by Stanton Glantz, a failed aerospace engineer who masquerades as a professor of medicine at UCSF.

  • Broony Saint

    I firstly agree, there are plenty of adults that grow up and still like Pokemon. Secondly I wholeheartedly agree, those stupid enough to try and destroy the integrity of Vaping, by flaunting the law, deserve to be penalized by the integral vaper advocates, that are trying to STOP vaping being devastated from the inside. As if we haven’t enough trouble with so called health lobbyists.
    Thank you Fergus for you due diligence. Those who truly wish to see vaping not only JUST survive, but to become accepted by those who do not Need it, cannot in truth hate you, for reporting them.
    Broony

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