The e-cigarette and vaporizer industries have found a unique way to promote their message to a prime market, young adults.
A rising wave of companies are offering college scholarships to individuals who turn in the most thought-provoking essays on potential vaping benefits, according to The Associated Press.
Quite clever, actually.
By offering vaping scholarships, mostly in the $250-$5,000 range, companies discovered a way to list their brands on reputable university websites, including Harvard. Among the popular essay topics are proven benefits of medical marijuana and the potential of vaping being a safe alternative to nicotine, AP reported.
Stolen from the old playbook of ways to improve the ranking of websites, the vaping scholarship offers are a ploy to gain the attention of the student community. It’s an investment, really, and companies such as DaVinci Vaporizer, Slick Vapes, and SmokeTastic have offered scholarships over the past two years, according to AP.
It’s a little bit of being genuine, a little bit of self-interest,” Vapor Vanity Owner Robert Pagano told AP. “This is probably the best way to get people to actually focus on the issues that we’re trying to write about.”
Curious, but a few days after Pagano went public with his comments, the Las Vegas-based review site unceremoniously deleted the vaping scholarship offers. AP could not reach Pagano for further comment on why they suddenly removed the offers of up to $1,500.
Here’s the rub: while the scholarships are only for students 18 years or older, younger students can enter. Critics contend this will only enhance the nation’s rising teen vaping issue. Federal agencies are attempting to curb sales to teenagers, but several companies, like Juul, have developed into youthful institutions of rebellion.
While a series of companies declined interview requests from AP, the American Vaping Association (AVA) trade group stood its ground and defended the approach.
AVA official Gregory Conley pointed out alcohol producers, such as Anheuser-Busch, have long histories of offering scholarships.
Is this not the next step in legitimizing the e-cigarette and vaping industries? Could be.
And in the meantime, a few college students will benefit from a few extra dollars in their pockets.