Free E-cigs for Theater Shooting Victims: Generous or Appalling?By
In what must surely be one of the most questionable marketing tactics of all time, electronic cigarette company Veppocig.com is offering a free e-cig trial kit to people experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from last week’s theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
The offer is open to shooting victims 18 and older who already smoke. We’re not sure how they’re going to verify the “already a smoker” bit or how they plan to approach the shooting victims without appearing totally sleazy, but ok.
The company cited statistics showing that nearly half of people with PTSD are smokers, and that people who have endured trauma like the theater shooting are more likely to smoke than people who have not had such experiences.
PTSD sufferers often turn to traditional cigarettes in an effort to cope with the emotional symptoms of their disorder — a coping mechanism that often causes physical health problems down the road.
A Veppo representative explained that the company ” …discourages smoking initiation, but encourages and assists those who do smoke to find a suitable alternative. Above all, we are a company that cares for the health of our customers. We understand that they are going through a difficult time and we want to help. We are reaching out to the victims in the Aurora shooting.”
Veppo even went so far as to quote President Obama’s reaction to the shooting, stating, “If there’s anything to take away from this tragedy, it’s a reminder that life is fragile. Our time here is limited and it is precious.” We assume Veppo is not implying that the President endorses their offer.
Veppocig.com, which considers itself to be “Colorado’s leading online distributor of electronic cigarettes, electronic cigars, and 3-liquid nicotine,” urges shooting victims who want a free trial kit to contact the company directly and speak to a “customer service ninja.” Ugh — really, Veppo?
We’ll hold our tongues on this one and put it out there for you guys to answer: Is Veppo employing a brilliant marketing strategy or using the “tragedy is good for business” model that works so well for TV news companies?