V2 sells its electronic cigarette products and V2 Pro vape pens to customers across the world; online and in select retail stores—to adults of legal smoking age. Since V2 was founded, we have maintained a strict policy that prohibits sales to minors and nonsmokers; a policy of self-regulation that we have urged other electronic cigarette companies to adopt.
We use age verification software that checks our online customers credit or debit cards for the legal tobacco smoking age in their state. Most states have passed law mandating that customers be 18 years of age or older to smoke tobacco products, while a select few states require customers to be 21 years or older. Although our electronic cigarette products do not produce smoke or contain tobacco leaf, we follow these strict guidelines in an effort to do our due diligence for the public and the industry as a whole. All of our vapor e-liquid is shipped to customers in childproof bottles and we have clear warning and age restriction verbiage listed prominently on our products, website and printed materials. Our adult customers have traditionally found us through a referral from a friend or family member or by searching online for an affordable, smoke-free alternative.
To little surprise, none of this information makes the headlines in the national media. Instead, powerful organizations and corporations with questionable agendas are fueled by special interest financing to shift the public discussion about electronic cigarette products away from facts and toward conjecture. The self-imposed regulations that responsible vapor companies have enacted upon themselves are rarely mentioned; instead, the focus is on misleading reports that fail to reveal the entire picture.
The public relations industry calls this technique framing—to focus a public within a field of meaning. In other words, present something in a specific way (the ‘frame’) in an effort to influence people’s opinions and behaviors. Many electronic cigarette industry insiders have seen this tactic played out in the media over the past several years. The result has led much of the American public to mistake narrow, biased opinions as fact.
Multiple, recent electronic cigarette studies have been conducted by various medical groups in such a way that the results are so narrow, they are almost predetermined. These studies are youth-focused and rely on loaded questions or slanted scales that ultimately favor the anti-vapor industry backers. For example, a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, tracked the tobacco usage of 694 young adults and teenagers, aged 16 through 26, for one year. The purpose of the study was to determine if electronic cigarettes are a gateway to traditional cigarette smoking. At its start, zero percent of respondents had tried tobacco cigarettes and 16 (2.3%) had tried an electronic cigarette. At the study’s conclusion, 11 of the 16 who had tried an electronic cigarette had tried a tobacco cigarette; while 128 of the remaining 678 respondents who had never tried an electronic cigarette reported to have tried a traditional tobacco cigarette. From this data, researchers determined that use of an electronic cigarette is likely to be a gateway for youth to traditional smoking. (Huh?)
There are several other studies like the one above that try to link electronic cigarette use as a ‘gateway’ to tobacco cigarettes. The same strategy has been used in the past for marijuana. According to one public health professor’s Fortune Magazine editorial, law enforcement officers utilized a similar campaign that spanned decades; claiming marijuana use was a gateway to heroin addiction. To this day, no proof, scientific or otherwise, has been found linking the two. This fact is further evidenced by the growing number of states who have lifted marijuana restrictions, a regulatory change that would be unheard of were marijuana use in any way linked to heroin addiction.
Instead of conducting framed studies to support a preset agenda, we encourage credible health professionals and agencies to get the whole story from adult respondents. The newness of electronic cigarette technology presents a glaring need for conclusive, unbiased study; the rapidly growing community of legal, adult electronic cigarette users offers ample subjects. Scientists should ask questions that will help researchers learn how long people use e-cigarettes and for what reasons. There needs to be better defined measures of an electronic cigarette user than ‘one puff = an ecig user.’
The reality is that electronic cigarette and other vapor devices are revolutionizing the way many adults live their lives. V2 offers tens of thousands of adult customers a non-combustible, affordable alternative to tobacco. Framing public opinion of e-cigarettes via misleading and narrow studies is doing the average citizen an injustice. Worse, it could lead to unnecessary, unfair federal regulation that could stifle a growing economy; potentially causing thousands of people to lose their jobs while limiting a resource that many American adults are using as a means to save money and reduce risk.
If you agree that the scientific community should conduct well-rounded studies that tell the whole truth about vapor devices, tell us in the comments section below! Make sure to also share this blog post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter to help inform others who may not understand the electronic cigarette industry.