Electronic Cigarette Flavors Are Not Targeted At Minors

By John Madden Posted September 25, 2013

This article is part 4 of the Top 20 Rebuttals to Win an E-Cigarette Debate


E-liquid Flavors


Flavored cigarettes are a thing of the past. Banned by the FDA in 2009, they were a blatant attempt by Big Tobacco to get cigarettes into the hands of children. A study published in the previous year had found the prevalence of flavored cigarette use to be three times greater in 17 year old smokers than those 25 years and older. More recently, the FDA has had their eye on the electronic cigarette market.


Key Points


  • E-cigarettes target heavy smokers and those who want a tobacco alternative.
  • They are designed to be safer than tobacco smoking.
  • Adults enjoy flavors just as much as children do, and desire variety.
  • Starter kits cost about the price of a carton of cigarettes, and are typically too expensive for most kids to purchase.
  • Other products like alcohol and fast food offer flavors that appeal to both minors and adult consumers.




Since their introduction to the US market in 2007, an increasing number of e-cig vendors have been flooding the market with every flavor of refill liquid under the sun. Flavors range from to the simple like peach and watermelon to the more complex like Boba’s Bounty and Radiator Pluid. And just as with cigarettes, many public officials are calling out e-liquid manufacturers for targeting their flavors at minors. This claim is unsubstantial, as this rebuttal will prove, for several reasons.


Ironic as it may seem, one of the biggest complaints from smokers new to vaping is the tobacco taste. It’s nearly impossible to replicate the taste of a real cigarette in a liquid form. Much of a tobacco cigarette’s flavor has to do with the over 7000 chemicals in the contents of their smoke (vaping is not smoking). And since there is no burning paper or combustion involved, all most regular flavored e-liquids can do is attempt to replicate the natural flavor of tobacco. E-cig companies realized this and started creating flavors that would lure smokers away from their cigarettes and keep them from going back.


Silly Government, Vapes Aren’t For Kids


Electronic cigarettes were made for and still target existing heavy smokers. If tobacco cigarettes never existed in the first place, there wouldn’t be a need for the electronic alternatives. Unfortunately, nearly half a million Americans die every year as a result of smoking-related diseases. Countless more smokers are living with adverse health effects caused by their tobacco use. The purpose of electronic cigarettes is to give current and former smokers something to use as an alternative to smoking.


The industry is overwhelmingly for any regulation restricting their use to people under the age of majority. Even when age restrictions aren’t in place, most vendors will still only sell to customers aged 18 and older. Online retailers usually require age verification to browse and nearly all only accept a major credit card or PayPal account for purchases.


Only in rare and unfortunate cases would someone below the age of majority even benefit from using an electronic cigarette. The few who have already become heavy smokers are strongly encouraged to talk to their doctor to discuss a quit plan. Theoretically speaking, it would be safer for a teen to vape instead of smoke cigarettes however allowing them to do so would only open the door to naive non-smoking youngsters.


Adults Have Taste Buds Too!   


The only real valid argument suggesting e-cigarettes are marketed towards minors is that cartridges and refills are sold in a variety of sweet tasting flavors. Questionable flavors including cotton candy, bubblegum and gummy bear mimic the tastes of popular candies and other sugary sweets. Surely they are going to seem attractive to teenagers.


Vapor Chef E-Liquid Bottles


Adults coincidentally enjoy these flavors as well and not all of them are those that would typically entice children. Many are interpretations of alcoholic beverages and gourmet desserts. To keep adults coming back to vaping, vendors are constantly developing new and complex flavor combinations.


Furthermore, vapers tend to alternate between several flavors on a weekly, if not daily basis. Vaping the same tobacco flavor day after day would get old and probably even become as irrelevant as the taste of tar on the tongue of a two pack-a-day smoker! In fact, after vaping for as little as a few weeks, the taste of traditional cigarettes becomes nearly unbearable for many smokers.


The Money Issue


For the majority of unemployed middle or high school students, money is not easy to come by. Those receiving allowances and/or working part time jobs typically can only afford to pay for essentials like video games, music, amusement park dates, gas and food. A $6 pack of smokes is much more economical than dropping an entire paycheck on an e-cig starter kit or mod. Refills also aren’t cheap. While they can last up to several weeks, a bottle of e-liquid typically runs around $10.


With more local governments blocking the sale of electronic cigarettes to those under the age of 18, just being able to purchase one is getting tougher for teens. Many electronic cigarette brands have online stores to reach a wider audience. Again, minors will be left in the cold or risk punishment when an e-cig shows up on their parents’ bank statement.


The Precedent Argument


E-cigs aren’t the only adult products that are flavored for further enjoyment. While cigarettes were blocked from being flavored some four years ago, cigars were exempt. Many mini “cigarillos” are sold in flavors like grape, apple and cherry. Smoking hookahs can be just as bad as cigarettes and shisha tobacco comes in a wide variety of fruity flavors. Hard alcohol can also be purchased in a plethora of flavors that may be attractive to children.


Sweet E-liquid Flavors vs Nicorette

Image credit: Kristin Noll-Marsh (Stop the ANTZ)


What’s even more astounding are the unhealthy products readily available to kids. Fast food is marketed towards children with names like “Happy Meal” and “Mighty Kids Meal” appealing to the younger generation. Flavored sodas, potato chips, candy, cake and donuts are just a few of the other unhealthy food items that target kids and contribute to childhood obesity.


In a hypothetical situation, let’s say a kid does unlawfully get his hands on an e-cigarette. The taste of one will be so far greater than that of a cigarette, there would logically be little chance of him or her picking up smoking. In the broad spectrum, there are far more dangerous activities for a child to partake in.


The main point of this whole argument is that flavored electronic cigarettes appeal to and are targeted toward adults. Just because we age does not mean we lose interest in the delectables of life. Flavored e-cigs undoubtedly taste better than tar-filled tobacco smoke and are a sincere attempt to keep health conscious smokers from falling off the vapor wagon.


Further reading:



  • Kathleen Hartley

    No no no, alcohol has flavors too, really I have been on e-cig’s for over a year and my store DOES NOT sell to minors!! Also all these commercials they keep talking about, I have not seen one of them!! This is the tobacco companies and politicians who are losing millions due to the decrease in tobacco sells!!!

    • Chris

      Realistically, if kids wanna get their hands on e-cigs, alcohol or cigarettes (and pretty much anything else), they can and they will, regardless of age restrictions and store policy. But that doesn’t mean e-cig companies are marketing their products at children. Big tobacco is pissed that they can’t sell their crap, now they want to blame e-cig manufacturers. What if the trend changes and kids start liking tobacco/menthol flavors? Do we ban those too?

      • Kathleen Hartley


      • And yes, kids will drink/smoke regardless of what flavor you add to the substance. What governments should be focusing on is teen hard drug use. I’ve seen way too many underage zombies hanging out outside 7-11 late at night recently.

    • Yes! There are a couple brands who have more flavors than most e-liquid companies!

  • Ahmed A.

    Wold you rather have your kids smoke pot, cigarettes, and get drunk…OR vape smoke “Cotton candy” ecig? I’d give anything to get my kids hooked on these rather than the pack of cigarette they smoke DAILY!!!

    In fact, they should make flavors that specifically appeal to kids (0 nicotine). Don’t force kids to buy them, but if they’re going to try much much worse stuff, they might as well get hooked on these.

  • Vaping_dragon

    in this day and age even big tobacco has started branding there own ecigs