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.