By Corey Moss

OK, I already know that some of you may be scratching your heads, and that’s ok.

I’ve long done podcasts that will test other waters, and go out of the box – sometimes far out. I like the challenge to bring topics that might not reflect the AV market – more in adjacent tech markets, and sometimes not even adjacent tech at all.

eSports

eSports is obviously one of the hottest topics in the AV industry these days, and any integrator not even considering getting into it could be missing out on a huge opportunity – as the eSports market grows exponentially. Colleges and universities are hotbeds for this tech. As for teens, they ruled the Fortnite World Cup which has provided mass attention to the sport. There is further evidence that in terms of stocks, certain companies have the potential to be long-term winners in the space – McDonalds, PepsiCo, Nike and others, who all have a major line of eSports sponsorships and projects.

Imagine being called in by McDonalds, Nike or one of the other majors to provide technology for a project involving eSports. This means the time is now, not a month from now to start investing time and focus to it. If you already do – congratulations you are on the major crest of a young tech wave.

Personally speaking…

I personally love the eSports electricity that’s being generated around the world, where people of all ages have the chance to compete – and make a significant amount of money as well. For the integrator, it all really trickles down in terms of projects and capital, if you can see it that way.

And as far as I can see, never has a tech space movement electrified the world as eSports has. Some Twitter sites to follow:

G2 Esports – Official Twitter of G2 Esports | World premier esports club.

Gfinity Esports – The home of UK esports & gaming content.

MLG – Watch the best in esports live.

Gen.G Esports – The official English Twitter for global esports organization.

Just to name a few.

Getting back to the teen focus though, it brings me to the next subject… e-cigarettes. I have never been a smoker, and I never preach non-smoking – though I do say that quitting is of course the best thing a smoker can do for their health. However, it’s also been stated by e-cigarette companies that usage of their products is also a very good way for a cigarette smoker to quit smoking cigarettes, and improve upon their health as well.

e-cigarettes

JUUL Labs, one of the most popular e-cigarette companies (if not the most) says this:

Combustible cigarettes are the world’s #1 cause of preventable death. Across the United States, millions of adult smokers are deciding to make the switch from cigarettes to vapor-based alternatives.

At JUUL Labs, our objective is to end cigarettes by giving adult smokers the tools and support they need to switch from combustibles for good.

This is a message provided in their ‘The Switch Network’ mission – in essence, a way to get cigarette smokers to switch to the JUUL product.

The mission stated on the website:

In terms of combustible cigarettes being the world’s #1 cause of preventable death, there are studies that have shown this to be true. E-cigarettes do contain nicotine and it’s plainly stated on the products. I have questioned nicotine levels in terms of an e-cigarette vs. combustible cigarette, and there have been various reports, some stating excessive levels in e-cigarettes while some state that these figures are overblown.

In an article Combustible cigarettes vs. vaping: How do the nicotine levels vary? it’s stated ‘One of the main reasons that people prefer vaping compared to smoking is that vaping gives them more control of their nicotine intake. Although many e-cigarettes do contain nicotine in the contents of their juices, it is a controlled level that is chosen by the vaper. Needless to say, it’s important to understand how nicotine levels vary between combustible cigarettes and electronic cigarettes.

OK, the debate could go on and on, and for me on Twitter it did this week. So much so it led to a phone call with one of those who was in the tweeting exchange. I won’t get into that other than to say it didn’t end terribly well. No issue there, not every opinionated conversation does. I still respect this person, and his views.

Popularity

The main point here though, as eSports has become wildly popular with teenagers, so has vaping. It’s come into question in terms of JUUL Labs’ advertising as it had appeared to be dedicated to drawing towards teens:

The vape company Juul said it doesn’t target teens. Its early ads tell a different story.

A flashy looking device, it uses flavored “juice” pods, and runs on a battery. Here’s a writeup/review of the product by one vaping publication:

The JUUL Vape Explained: How It Works + Reviews of Device

(The JUUL pods).

Here’s a part of what the reviewer said:

I love the way the JUUL looks.

It’s stealthy as heck, and it looks very smart which makes it ideal for pretty much any kind of user – even those that work in corporate environments.

It’s tiny when compared to standard mod and tank kits and takes up barely any room in your pocket.

This is why JUUL is so popular with ex-smokers: it not only pulls like a cigarette but it kind of handles like one too.

Teens and usage in schools

It’s been said by school teachers and administrators that high school and middle school bathrooms have at times been referred to by students as the ‘JUUL Room’ – as the brand has done a significant job in terms of capturing this young market, to have such a reference made in the first place.

How Many Teens Use E-cigarettes?

Cost” of vaping?

Is there a real cost of vaping? Nicotine addiction is one, as nicotine is a known addictive chemical – it’s stated on JUUL product kit labels. Here’s one site that shows numerous “costs” (that have been argued as real and fake declarations) The Real Cost! I actually had argued some of these with others this week to determine what’s factual and not – again varied responses on this.

Some recent articles about ‘health risks’:

“Vaping” Is Causing an Uptick in Seizures, According to the FDA

14 People Have Been Hospitalized From Vaping—Here’s Why E-Cigarettes Are So Dangerous

Note: I put in ‘ to health risks, since it’s been argued in terms of truth to these claims.

But this is actually good, it makes for education (which I actually received in certain conversations) and good debate bringing further intelligence to the discussion – for me in terms of research that I’ll do to make further determinations on responses. And possibly agreement with others’ statements.

Final statement

In ending this article, my point for eSports is that it’s a booming space with tons of opportunity for integrators, manufacturers and others in the AV tech industry. Teens are being drawn to this as they’ve never been drawn before to any tech-related space, and it’s bringing amazing future prospects all around. As for e-cigarrettes, as an alternative to smoking combustible cigarettes, it’s an absolute safer alternative.

However, where teens are concerned, the advertising along with the pleasant juice flavors is causing them to take up vaping, where they may never have been smokers in the first place. As a claimed alternative to smoking for those who are already cigarette smokers – this is the point of focus here… teens are influenced in many ways to be involved – whether it be eSports, or e-cigarettes.

To be discussed – on this week’s The AV Life, where two of the guests are from the AV industry, and one isn’t – he happens to be one person I had the e-cigarette/vape discussion with on Twitter this weekend, he also happens to be very active in these discussions (and is a sports fan as well).

You’ll hear it Friday.

A footnote: My attempts to have conversation with JUUL Labs concerning product usage, advertising and health concerns were met with non-response. I was only able to speak with support people who said they could only help with product, product explanation and warranty. I contacted another e-cigarette company as well, a bit more success with conversation, but not much. These companies’ employees do not give out last names on the phone.

Note 8/7: I was contacted this morning (12:15 ET) by JUUL Labs’ Media Relations and Communications after they were made aware that I was looking for information on JUUL’s practices concerning marketing and advertising, especially to teens. Though I am convinced that in early stages JUUL had been advertising to a younger market, as well as adults (as stated above), I have now been made aware of recent media put out by the company that is warning against e-cigarette usage by kids.

This was first presented to me.

NEW JUUL LABS ADULT EDUCATION CAMPAIGN January 8, 2019, on company website.

I had stated to him that I had been looking for media/information more in terms of JUUL e-cigarettes and teens.

Here is what he provided.

OUR COMMITMENT TO YOUTH PREVENTION (June 20, 2019) – on the company’s website

Vape makers must do more to stop kids from using e-cigarettes – Washington Post (March 30, 2019), written by JUUL CEO Kevin Burns.

I found this article in a lookup of Kevin Burns on LinkedIn.

‘I’m sorry’: Juul CEO issues public apology to parents of teens addicted to the company’s vaping products – Business Insider July 16, 2019.

An excerpt:

Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns has a message for parents of teens who are addicted to the company’s vaping products: “I’m sorry.”

Burns delivered that message in a new documentary, after CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla asked Burns what he would say to a parent of a child addicted to e-cigarettes.

Addicted. That’s what we’re really talking about here – and Kevin Burns is sorry.

Is that enough?

More to come, on the show.

With over 20 years in audio visual integration and IT/computer sales and consulting, Corey Moss is the owner of Convergent AV Media. Corey writes for the publication and hosts/produces podcasts – The AV Life, Convergent Tech Talk, Convergent Week and The AV Tech Trade. He has written for numerous industry publications about AV, IT, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), cloud and software, IoT, cybersecurity and more. He has also conducted interviews with AV and IT executives and global influencers. Find him talking about a whole lot of things, tech and otherwise. On LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/mosscorey/.