Pokemon Go Used to Lure Kids Into Vape Shops?

    When federal funding flows like nectar, the anti-nicotine zealots start swarming



    Ever wonder how vape shops draw in the children they count on to sell their candy-flavored poisons? They do it by promoting their stores with phone apps geared to children, of course! What could be better?

    Or at least that’s what a bunch of lazy scientists at the University of Southern California say. Vaping has provided a platform for all manner of clowns dressing up half-baked political rants in the language of research. Anti-vaping “science” may have hit peak stupid with this one though.

    Supported by public funding from the National Cancer Institute, these clowns spent about a day and a half googling Pokemon Go and searching Yelp, then another day visiting Los Angeles vape shops that happened to be located near “PokeStops.” They found one shop that used the Pokemon Go connection to try to lure in customers.

    Who could imagine a more perfect moral panic than vaping plus a cell phone app?

    Since vape shops in California can’t actually sell anything to people under age 21, it doesn’t matter much if the shops are stuffed full of rare Pokemons. But these people don’t let a small consideration like that get in their way. Who could imagine a more perfect moral panic than vaping plus a cell phone app?

    “Further research is warranted,” they write, “to determine whether non-tobacco users visit vape shops and/or initiate e-cigarette use after being exposed to these advertisements via game playing, and whether current e-cigarette users increase use as a result of game play.”

    Sure, further research, that’s the ticket. Maybe another posse of researchers can scare up another store with a Pokemon Go sign out front. (By the way, be sure to check out Neil Robinson’s hilarious guest spot on Dick Puddlecote’s blog for more on the wacky tobacco controllers and their exciting Pokemon adventures.)

    Might be time to lawyer up


    Maybe it’s time for vape shops to hit back. I’d like to see stores and manufacturers that are accused of “marketing to kids” band together and hire an attorney to sue authors of this kind of junk for defamation. How long do they get to make unfounded accusations without accounting for their reckless behavior?

    No one is marketing to children, no one is selling to children, and the products aren’t made for children. We all know that. Further, any adult who spends a day studying the issue should damn well know it too. If they insist on using their academic positions to knowingly smear legitimate businesses, maybe it’s time to make them pay for the privilege.

    Jim McDonald
    Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I recently joined the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy