Over the past several months, the vaping world has been attacked by both our media, and our government. Allegations towards vaping companies have been strong and bold, suggesting that vaping companies are targeting youth in an attempt to get them hooked on nicotine at an early age. The media and our government has been suggesting that the reason e-liquids and vaping products contain flavors such as strawberry, bubblegum, chocolate, and the like are to intentionally attract young people to vaping.
As an owner of Canada Vapes in Ontario, Canada, and as someone who is in the business of selling vaping products to adult Canadians since 2010, I can assure anyone reading this that attracting youth to our products is something we simply do not want to do. Firstly, this is a terrible philosophical disregard for our society, values, and morals. Secondly, it’s simply bad business. In Ontario the fines for selling vaping products to individuals under the age of 19 are severe and would jeopardize our entire business. Why would we promote our products to a demographic that can’t even legally purchase our products?
I was at the Palasad last night with my kids, which is a fun, child friendly restaurant that also offers kids activities including bowling, arcades, ping pong, laser tag, and pool. I decided to have a look at the drink menu which was, as always, upright in the middle of the table for all to see. What caught my eye, as I’m sure it was intended to, was the child friendly image of three gigantic sour keys sitting above a glass lined with rock pop candy and cinnamon sugar. This image also quickly attracted the eyes of my children, who asked: “That looks yummy, can I have one?” To which I responded: “No, its alcohol”. They got a sad look on their face when they realized it was an alcoholic drink.
The drink in question is called the Boomer Bowl and contains sour apple, pomegranate juice, pineapple juice, lemonade, and is rimmed with Pop rocks candy and sugar and served with three giant sour keys. I cannot think of a more attractive drink to a child than this one. Yet it is happily served and promoted by a local kid-friendly establishment.
The reason my children became sad when I told him that the drink in question was alcohol-based, is because as a responsible parent I have taught my kids that alcohol is not for children, but it is something for adults only. Similarly, I have also taught my children that vaping is not for children, and is something only for adults. I think we’re missing a vital point when we discuss youth vaping: If you are a parent, then you have a strong parental responsibility to educate your children regarding adult-focused products and services. This need to have our government strictly regulate anything and everything that has the potential to be of concern is a major overstep. If you are a parent, please take some time to educate your children about all adult lifestyle choices, including cigarettes, alcohol, vaping, overeating, healthy food choices, gambling, proper exercise, importance of sleep, anger management, kindness, inclusion, respect, etc.
Is Palasad creating candy alcohol drinks to attract children? By the same theory that our government has stated about vaping companies, this seems to be the case. However after careful intelligent consideration, could it be possible that adults also enjoy candy? Could it be possible adults also enjoy chocolate? Could it it be possible that adults also enjoy sweet, fruity flavors?
The level of hypocrisy I felt when looking at the picture of alcohol laced with sour keys and pop rocks was unfathomable. Just the other day at my retail store, a government agent named Gurveena Deol, who is an inspector for the Tobacco and Vaping Compliance and Enforcement Program of Health Canada, came into our vape store and removed seven bottles of e- liquid from our shelves because they contain the words custard, vanilla, or candy in their names. These products were not even on display for anyone to see, but sitting in our closed shelving system. Gurveena also removed several of our vape tanks because there is a picture of a dragon on them. She indicated that the dragon could be attractive to children. Keep in mind that only customers 19+ are allowed to enter our establishment, and we enforce our ID policy.
Alcohol consumption and addiction is actually a tremendous challenge in our youth today. In fact, 80% of young Canadians, aged 15 and older, reported drinking alcohol in the past year. The majority of young people in grades 7-12 will try alcohol before the legal age in Canada. Further, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among 16 to 25-year-olds, in alcohol and/or drug impairment is a factor in 55% of these crashes according to MADD Canada.
Let’s all try to get our heads on straight in this discussion. Vaping companies are not targeting youth. They will create and sell the e-liquid flavors that their adult customers want. I have hundreds of customers in their 40s 50s 60s 70s and even 80s that love sweet candy and fruity flavors in their e-liquids. If we educate our youth as parents, in our school systems, and in our society, it will be much more effective at reducing youth vaping than banning e-liquid flavors.
I don’t want to live in a world where adults are restricted from buying a Boomer bowl, or any other fruity candy alcoholic drink. In order for me to be able to buy this drink, other products and services need to have the same opportunities, including vaping products.