Smithsonian Magazine recently ran an article, Ads for E-Cigarettes Today Hearken Back to the Banned Tricks of Big Tobacco, about E-Cigarette Ads utilizing techniques that were already banned (in the US) by combustible cigarettes.

I've done freelance work for a Vapeshop before. Thinking back on the services I provided I don't believe any could've been at all considered predatory, though I may be forgetting one. I dropped them as a client a long time ago because of moral reasons anyway.

This does beg the question though - as a designer do we have any legal obligations to be aware of predatory design practices? If vape advertising does get regulated in the way that combustible cigarettes are regulated then does any of that burden fall on us, the designers? Or should we accept the job, get paid, and leave the legal fallout entirely up to the client?

  • "do we have any legal obligations" is a legal question, and I wouldn't be comfortable answering it. Ask your lawyer.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 14:33
  • if you consider something to be predatory, and you're concerned about laws permitting or otherwise allowing you to be predatory, you have bigger problems than the law.
    – Confused
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 5:38

1 Answer 1


The answer is: It depends. Remember, we are in the marketing business. We can sell luxurious cars in Dubai only with golden rectangles and lead pipes with naked women exposing their breast.

WE can, but we don't have to. It's completely to us what we're gonna do. We can walk away from such job. Not even when it's borderline legal, just when it's not ethic for us.

Designer will knew this traits themselves of will get guidelines from someone who use them with certain target in mind.

It's to us and our own moral compass to decide what we do. Either we are fully responsible for design and create what we are comfortable with. Then full responsibility is on us. If we get guidelines and briefs from agency or supervisor and decide to fulfil them then they are responsible before public opinion and we answer only to ourself.

and my 5-cents: As designer we should aim to create better and better materials. We can chip in on some ideas if we feel they are bad and try to create something "cooler". Of course, now every "senior account" have watched Man Man 50 times and know everything about advertising. But we can push to make really good ads. We should want to be next Leyendecker and not the one who created this enter image description here

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