When Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act in 1970, it meant the end of cigarette advertising on television and radio, and the beginning of warning labels on cigarettes. The warning labels were found to be insufficient so another law, the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act was put into effect in 1984, requiring that warning labels be more specific, be different, and rotate every three months.
The cigarettes ads stopped airing on television and radio, but sponsorships of sporting events continued on, offering their own form of advertising. In 2010, even those came to an end when the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law prohibiting “tobacco companies from sponsoring sports, music, and other cultural events.” Why is any of this important? While tobacco products such as cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are not allowed to sponsor sports, music and “other cultural events,” apparently electronic cigarette companies are not being held to the same standards, even if they are owned by same tobacco companies which are not allowed.
During the recent South by Southwest 2014 (SXSW) in Austin, Texas held in March, VUSE Digital Vapor Cigarette was named the official e-cigarette sponsor. VUSE is produced by the R. J. Reynolds Vapor Company, a subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc, a tobacco company. Their official press release states they want to redefine “enjoyment for adult tobacco consumers,” and states their “brand representatives will be interacting with age-verified adult tobacco consumers at several festival events.” The product is hyped as “state-of-art, digital technology,” and a “game-changer.”
This festival is huge, combining music, film and high-tech companies, and attracting “approximately 47,000 registrants to Austin every March,” along with a trade show, and over 2,000 acts at over 100 venues. It is a prime opportunity to pitch a product that hasn’t been on the market long enough for people to know the hidden dangers to their health, but are taken by the modern design and the hype of the product on social media outlets such as Facebook which are used by millions of youth under 18. (Vuse Vapor joined Facebook in early 2014.)
Perhaps we need to start by enforcing the law that says a cigarette company is not allowed to sponsor a music event like they did at SXSW when an unnamed tobacco company sponsored a show in a “secret” location and provided free “stuff.” Granted attendees were supposed to be over 21+ and show a valid U.S. ID, but any free products could be given to others. The next step is to close the loopholes so no sponsorships of tobacco products also mean no sponsorship of nicotine delivery products, the part of the product that addicts its users. The tobacco industry shouldn’t be above the law especially since their products are the only consumer products that kill their users when used as directed.
The Virginia Slims ad above came from HERE.