Owners of brands geared to children have set the battle lines in a fight to keep names like Thin Mint, Tootsie Roll and Cinnamon Toast Crunch off flavored nicotine used in electronic cigarettes.
The Associated Press reports that Golden Valley-based General Mills is joining with the Girl Scouts and Tootsie Roll Industries in firing off cease-and-desist letters to makers of liquid nicotine. The letters demand that they stop using the brands and warn of additional legal action.
A trend story published earlier this year by the Oakland Tribune looked at the growing popularity of vaping — puffing on inhalers known as electronic cigarettes or vape pen that use small batteries to heat a flavored liquid until it produces an inhalable vapor. The liquid may contain varying levels of a nicotine kick, from zero (flavor only) up to 24 milligrams, but no tobacco smoke is produced.There are vape shops, vape meets and even Vape Magazine for aficionados, which says it covers 'e-cigarette news and culture.' Vape News Radio, a podcast devoted to issues surrounding the practice.
The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association estimates 4 million Americans now use the battery-powered cigarettes. Consumers Union notes that sales of the products grew from about $500 million in 2012 to an estimated $1.5 billion in 2013.
"Using the Thin Mint name -- which is synonymous with Girl Scouts and everything we do to enrich the lives of girls -- to market e-cigarettes to youth is deceitful and shameless," Girl Scouts spokeswoman Kelly Parisi said in a statement.
"Unfortunately it's not going to change unless companies come in and assert their intellectual property," said Linc Williams, board member of the American E-liquid Manufacturing Standards Association and an executive at NicVape Inc., which produces liquid nicotine.
The Food and Drug Administration last month proposed regulating electronic cigarettes but didn't ban fruit or candy flavors. Some fear kid-friendly flavors like bubble gum, cherry crush and blueberry will lure young people into the nicotine habit, even though it’s illegal for minors to buy them.