Let’s call time on stupid vendors

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Stupid vaping products sold by stupid vendors

Let’s call time on stupid vendors

A few weeks ago I expressed some annoyance at vendors who were, in my opinion, being stupid. In this particular case it was a rash of morons selling “Pokéjuice”, a trademark-busting product that’s also an absolute gift to those who claim the industry is targeting children. I made some comments on Facebook and reported a couple of vendors to Trading Standards, but mostly what I did was annoy stupid people. I’m not exactly a stranger to annoying people, and it’s not like upsetting the stupid ones troubles my conscience, but it is pretty frustrating to raise problems like this and be met with a wall of baffled, stupid annoyance.

I don’t believe for a minute that any of the mainstream vapour product makers, or even the dreaded tobacco companies, are “marketing to children”, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to say the same about some of the more stupid independents. By all means make ice cream flavoured e-liquid. In fact I’m trying out a very nice strawberry vanilla ripple as I write this. Adults like ice cream too. But seriously, what the fuck is the justification for this?

icecream

Whether the industry is targeting children or not, people who want it shut down are claiming that it is. This is reality. Ignoring reality is not brave or clever; it’s stupid. When people accuse you of making products that appeal to children there is nothing smart about disguising your fairly pedestrian-looking small glass dripper bottle as a tub of ice cream. You are not being edgy, witty or ironic. You are being a dick.

Here’s something else about disguising your products as food: It’s against the law. If you’re tempted to sell something that’s packaged to look like a Cornetto, you might want to read this first. You’ve read it and you don’t agree with the law? Well, that’s just tough. Brexit has given the UK vaping industry a potential lifeline. If we play this the clever way we could get the EU’s idiotic TPD removed, and replaced with a set of sensible laws that ensure safety without banning whole categories of products. But if we want sensible laws the industry has to demonstrate that it can obey the law. If you don’t act like adults you won’t be treated like adults. You’ll get spanked – and frankly, if you’re selling Pokéjuice or the products pictured in this post, you deserve it.

A story about stupid vendors selling stupid products is now on BBC News. That’s a global news outlet. Do we really need negative stories, that seem to confirm everything the public health lobby has been saying, on global news right now? No, we do not. In a few weeks the WHO’s COP 7 conference will be taking place in New Delhi, and the prohibitionist maniacs who run that will be looking for any excuse to clamp down on vaping. Five stupid vape shop owners on Merseyside just handed them another one.

If you make products like the ones featured here, you are stupid. If you sell those products, you are stupid. If you continue to buy from a vape shop that sells those products, you are stupid. There are powerful people out there who want to shut down every vape shop and force you to buy medicalised cigalikes from a pharmacy. Guess what? They’re going to get their way, unless the people making, selling and buying this fucking rubbish stop being stupid.


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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.