This weekend I was searching the headlines for something noisy to report for the State of Cannabis News Hour on Clubhouse, and you know how when you can’t find your car keys, you have to tilt your head and look at the room differently?
So I was catching stories like “California Governor Vetoes Marijuana Billboard Legislation, Saying It Would Put Youth At Risk” when an ad in the sidebar caught my attention:
“Why Be Happy When You Can Be Sad?”
When I was a young copywriter, my most award-winning headline was “My Testicles Are Killing Me” (for a Pet Rescue organization) ... so a bonkers headline like “Why Be Happy When You Can Be Sad?” is right up my alley.
Turns out, the ad is for THE TRUTH – the anti-smoking campaign.
Since our enemies are putting out container ships of bullshit about cannabis lately I thought it might be refreshing to strike back at what the CDC calls “the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States” : TOBACCO, the legal consumer product that kills 480,000 Americans each year. (CDC)
“Why be happy when you can be sad?”, the web page says “Nicotine in vapes can amplify feelings of depression and anxiety”… because they contain toxic chemicals like arsenic, aluminum, and lead which affect the nervous system and can leave you at risk of depression.
"We’re proud to be the first company to market a vape completely honestly" it continues tongue in cheek... "DEPRESSION STICKS!" They come in 4 flavors:
1. Citrus Sadness
2. Melancholy Menthol
“How will we market Depression Sticks? Just like our competitors”:
Targeted Marketing: One vape company purchased ad space on Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Seventeen Magazine and educational sites for middle and high school students. (Source: Lawsuits filed by Massachusetts Attorney General in 2021(!)
Fight regulation: One vape company hired over 80 lobbyists and spent over $1.2M to counteract regulation. (Sources: New York Times, Apr 2019. Bloomberg, Oct 2019.)
Scholarships: Vape companies have offered scholarships from $250 to $5,000 for student essays on whether vaping could have potential health benefits (Source: Associated Press, June 2018)
THE DEEP DIVE
At the same time Cannabis billboards are banned:
The Tobacco industry markets to kids and
Each day, lures about 1,600 youth to try their first cigarette. (according to the CDC)
And here’s something I learned: A JUUL cartridge contains the same amount of nicotine as 20 cigarettes.
And now I understand the wicked efficiency of tobacco companies’ switch to vapes. It’s LOGISTICS.
A pack of cigarettes carries 20 cigarettes, aka "20 units of nicotine." In that same box, they can fit 54 Juul cartridges (I downloaded the measurements and did the math). So, a container the size of a pack of smokes can carry not 20 cigarettes, but 54 x 20, or more than 1,000 cigarettes.
THE LOOP BACK
And for the last word, I will quote someone who is not usually an ally – Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute for Drug Abuse. In 2018, she stated something quite prescient:
“Nicotine is quite a potent substance, and from research [we know]
it serves to prime your brain toward the rewarding effects of other drugs.”
TOBACCO IS A GATEWAY DRUG.
And Governor Newsome thinks cannabis billboards “put youth at risk”?
I’ll bet BIG TOBACCO wishes it could have sponsored that FAKE NEWS.
Image source: https://www.thetruth.com/depressionstick