The New York Times reports that "more than 7,000 [e-cigarette] flavors are now available and, by one estimate, nearly 250 more are being introduced every month." Critics often claim this proliferation of flavors shows the industry is targeting children. In my latest Forbes column, I cite new survey data that show the critics are wrong to assume that nontobacco flavors appeal only to kids. Here is how it starts:
At a Senate hearing last month, Jay Rockefeller noted that electronic cigarette fluid is available in a wide variety of flavors—conclusive evidence, to his mind, that e-cigarette companies want to hook children on nicotine. "I am an adult," the West Virginia Democrat said. "Would I be attracted to Cherry Crush, Chocolate Treat, Peachy Keen, Vanilla Dreams? No, I wouldn't."
Call it the Rockefeller Rule: If an e-cigarette flavor does not appeal to this particular 77-year-old senator, it could not possibly appeal to anyone older than 17. Rebutting that claim, Jason Healy, founder and president of Blu eCigs, cited a customer survey that found "the average age of a cherry smoker is in the high 40s." Survey results released on Thursday by E-Cigarette Forum, an online gathering spot for vaping enthusiasts, reinforce Healy's point, showing that grownups prefer the flavors that Rockefeller insists are strictly for kids.