Toot- Toot- Tootsie, Goodbye!
No more Tootsie-Roll vapes, folks! The famed candy maker has asked e-liquid companies to stop using their trademarked name for a vaping flavor, according to Dayna Evans of gawker.com – and has been joined by no less than the Girl Scouts of the USA and the food conglomerate General Mills, Incorporated. These three venerable institutions, along with a few other confectioners, have threatened legal action against several members of AEMSA, the American E-liquid Manufacturers' Standards Association, for trademark violation.
Linc Williams of NicVape, an AEMSA board member, commented, noting that the issue is part of a "maturity process". "Going from being a wild entrepreneur to starting to establish real corporate ethics and product stewardship" makes for this type of conflict, Williams said. "It's something that we're going to continue to see." Challenged by the sweets manufacturers, his company is beginning the process of removing names like "Junior Mints" and the like. Apparently the actual flavors are variable enough, and consequently not sufficiently "commoditized", to be under trademark. Likewise, generic candy names like "gummy bear" appear to be in no danger, not yet anyway. But e-liquids makers have already been challenged by Big Tobacco for using names of their trademarked poisons, and have removed those names, but presumably not the actual flavors, from their products, after losing courtroom battles against the well-funded legal machines of the cigarette companies.
"We're family oriented," says Tootsie Roll's Ellen Gordon. "A lot of kids eat our products, we have many adults also, but our big concern is we have to protect the trademark.... When you have well-known trademarks, one of your responsibilities is to protect (them)." One wonders if they also complained to the producers of the film Tootsie.
Kelly Parisi of the Girl Scouts was even more outraged: "deceitful and shameless", she called the practice, arguing that Thin Mints are "synonymous with everything we do to enrich the lives of girls." Perhaps the organization also had words of chastisement for the enterprising youngster who set up her cookie-sales table outside a medical marijuana dispensary, and sold a record-breaking 117 boxes in less than 2 hours.
Of course there is more involved here than trademarks. The whole issue of candy flavors has become a controversial issue. Many e-cigarette opponents think that the very existence of candy flavors is a ploy to peddle the product to underage users with the evil aim of getting the kids addicted to nicotine. Big Tobacco has been barred from using most flavors (all but menthol) in its poisonous combustible cigarettes for some time now, and some expect the same prohibition to be applied to vaping liquids any day now. But the FDA stopped short of making this prohibition in its first round of "deeming". It remains to be seen what will happen when their regulations assume their definitive formulation. (Of course this doesn't even touch on the other reason that flavors are a hot issue. Reasearchers like Konstantinos Farsalinos have noted that potential dangers are more likely to arise from flavor chemicals than from nicotine or propylene glycol, the major ingredient of most e-liquids.)
So which is safer, vaping candy or eating it, wonders Dayna Evans. "We want them fat, not dead," she comments on her own article.