There’s a general aura of guilt pervading my side of the office as I write this. The reason? I can’t seem to stop my hand from sliding into the open bag of liquorice comfits I have on my desk, slyly taking two at a time and then heading straight for my mouth.

I keep telling myself I’ll stop at the next one – and then my hand, seemingly with a mind of its own, once more reaches over…

Bad hand!

You see, I have a sweet tooth. I can’t deny it. My dentist would be vigorously nodding her head right now if she was reading this over my shoulder. I’ve thankfully managed to quell my addiction to full fat Cherry Coke to the point where I only allow it as a treat at weekends and holidays, but I still find it difficult to walk past a bakery without diving in for a vanilla custard or iced finger.

I’m 35 years old.

Yet we constantly seem to hear – from anti e-cigarette campaigners, from the media – that we’re creating sweet-flavoured e-liquids to appeal to children. Really?

Let’s think about this for a second.


Actual sweets (nothing but sugar).

The biggest fast food chain in the world not only blatantly marketing to children but actually giving away a free toy with its (incredibly unhealthy) food. At a time when obesity has overtaken smoking as the number one killer in many western countries.

Yet a product with the potential to save millions of lives by offering a more attractive alternative to smoking shouldn’t be allowed to make itself too…well…attractive. Because think of the children.

How about we think of the children who have lost far-too-young parents to smoking-related diseases? Parents who, if they had made the switch to vaping, might have lived much longer, healthier lives. Has anyone bothered to ask their opinion?

Strangely, for someone with such a sweet tooth normally, I quite like a tobacco flavour. I’ve found that by having two tanks on hand, one with tobacco and one with fruit (apple is one of my faves), I’m far less likely to get bored of the flavour. And if I don’t get bored, I don’t start getting any niggling cravings for cigarettes again. Take my fruit or sweet options away from me, and I feel fairly certain that I’d immediately be facing much more of a challenge to stay off the ciggies for good.

Do we really need to make stopping smoking even more of a challenge?

Finally, as one last word to the ‘Think Of The Children!’ brigade, let me explain how marketing works. We have brand image first and foremost in our minds at all times.

We want to help as many smokers as possible shift from tobacco to vaping by appealing to them with the finest, purest, best-tasting products possible.

We do NOT want to market to underage kids because we do NOT want our brand to be associated with spotty teenagers in school uniforms hanging around street corners.

This is harsh stereotyping of teenagers. But when the anti-ecig campaigners and media are treating young teenagers like they’re all a bunch of idiots who’ll start vaping just because the liquids are sweet-flavoured, or because it looks ‘cool’, my immediate reaction as a marketer is to think ‘uh, no’.

That’s just not the look we’re going for.