Are you good with words? Well, you could walk away with a scholarship worth $250 to $5,000 for writing the best essay on the risks of tobacco or explaining why vaping may be a safer solution.
Such competitions are being posted online by e-cigarette retailers as well as review sites like Slick Vapes, DaVinci Vaporizer, and SmokeTastic.
In the meantime, federal agencies are investigating underage e-cig sales in line with marketing efforts by brands like Juul, which has the teenager’s favorite chill spot.
An increasing number of e-cig and vaporizer retailers are now offering college scholarships in a bid to have their brands listed on campus websites and lure students into writing essays about the pros of vaping.
And so far, the tactic has successfully gotten vaping brands on the nation’s leading university sites counting Harvard with criticism of “the use of scholarships as a trick to attract the young market” hovering around the new marketing strategy.
E-cig companies request students who seek the $250 to $5,000 scholarships, write about the risks of tobacco, explain vaping a safer solution or recommend certain types of e-cigs to users.
These grants have been going viral for the last two years, with the three websites mentioned above leading the trend.
Interestingly, some of the e-cig sellers like Robert Pagano of Vapor Vanity (a review site) agree the scholarships have “a little bit of self-interest.” Still, he insisted that it was just a way to shift the public’s attention the issues e-cig sellers are discussing.
These awards are emerging at a period when high schools are struggling to control the boom of these devices among teens at times suspending students and installing vapor-sensitive alarms. On the other side, Federal agencies are cracking down on underage e-cig sales by the brand Juul.
Though these sites limit some of their scholarships 18 and older— legal age for using e-cig products— many have no age limits which make leaves them open to younger teenagers.
Most of these vaping merchant account holders that offer essay contests have been unwilling to respond to interviews. However, the American Vaping Association trade group supported the grants arguing that it provides platforms for e-cig firms to market their brand while helping college students.
Anti-tobacco only learned about it recently and sharply disapproved of efforts use teens as a marketing tool for vaping products.
Opponents have however made it clear that their scholarships are in line with federal rules burring e-cig and tobacco firms from advertising to minors.
The FDA which should oversee the regulation of e-cigs ignored most of the criticism and only said that the firms “must act responsibly and protect young people from the risks of these products.”
So far, students can still write on the pros of vaping and win scholarships despite little opposition among anti-drug agencies. But who knows how far the issue may go?
Author Bio: Electronic payments expert Blair Thomas co-founded eMerchantBroker, serving both traditional and high-risk merchants including those looking for a vaping merchant account. His passions include producing music and traveling.