It’s a good point. There are many public health people who think vaping is just fine — as long as it’s boring, bland and invisible. Is that what we’re fighting for? Who gets to decide which labels are acceptable and which aren’t? Who will be the pleasure police?

“In America, where the regulatory framework will wipe out every product on the market that the independent industry makes, I’m not so sure ‘toning it down’ is going to achieve anything,” says Amelia Howard. “And from a social movements standpoint, it could be counterproductive if it undermines some of the principles vapers are advocating for.”

What principles are we advocating for? Is there a place for stupid jokes in vaping culture? Could we become so obsessed with avoiding “childish” images that we forget to laugh at ourselves?

“One of the things that makes vaping interesting to study is the powerful role that humor has played in resisting rather extreme attempts at social control from adversaries,” says Howard. “While I do empathize with the frustration of people doing serious work to save the industry from an apocalypse, I’d hate to see vaping lose its irony.”

There are all kinds of tasteless e-juice labels. I would never buy ‘em. Maybe you do. But they’re not the reason we’re fighting the FDA and the anti-nicotine horde. If every e-liquid came in a brown bottle with black-and-white lettering, we’d still be accused of “marketing to children.” The people accusing us don’t care about protecting children anyway. They just want us gone.

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