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Anti-Vaping Propaganda by Marvel Comics: What is wrong?

Posted on 28 May 2021

The FDA and Marvel Comics collaborate on Anti-vaping

The FDA has teamed up with Marvel comics for a new youtube mini series intended to curb youth vaping. This series titled ‘Mind Control Mence’ tells the story of two bright and hardworking highschool friends, Javier and Amy, who begin to notice changes in their classmates' behaviour and later the behaviour of others in their small town. Javier and Amy notice that a green fog has been following their classmates and is the cause of their sudden apathy and lack of focus. During their quest to find the fog’s weakness, the protagonists end up in a head to head battle with the monster. Amy falls victim to the fog’s mind control, but Javier escapes when he yells “No!” at the monster and it backs away from the fight. Javier learns that just saying no is enough to protect himself from the mind control menace, but wanting to save his friends Javier modifies some technology he and Amy had been working on that allows him to see the future. He uses the device on his classmates so they can see how bleak their futures are when they’re being controlled by the fog, which motivates them to fight off the control of the fog and the town is saved.

The story is supposed to teach teens about the dangers of vaping, but unfortunately relies on the same fear mongering and over simplification tactics that have been popular in anti-drug campaigns since the 1960’s.  

The Real Facts

The problem with this anti-vaping campaign isn’t the message itself, teens who don’t use nicotine shouldn’t start, the problem is the way the FDA has chosen to relay their message. The CDC’s 2019 National Youth Tobacco survey shows that the number one reason teens try tobacco is curiosity. If teens are curious about vaping, personifying vaping as a mysterious entity with supernatural abilities is likely not the best way to quell their curiosity. 

Gary Resch, a representative of FBC New York, the ad company who helped create the comic, explained the thought behind the story, saying “For most teens, high school is a time to enjoy more independence and self-reliance. With our partners at Marvel, we’re framing addiction as an entity that subverts that freedom—which, for a 16-year-old, makes for a perfect villain.” What the FCB has failed to account for is the kind of independence teens are interested in. Teens want to be spoken to like reasonable, intelligent people. Providing teens with factually accurate information about vaping would be the best way to satisfy their curiosity while minimizing the harmful stigma around addiction and mental health that these ad campaigns contribute to.   


E-cigarettes and other END devices should only be used by people of legal smoking age. We believe in a harm reduction approach to nicotine use that centres an individual's health. No one should start using nicotine if they don’t already, but for those who use combustible cigarettes, vaping can offer a cleaner way to use nicotine. Everyone deserves access to the most accurate, up-to-date information in order to make informed decisions for their health.   

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