On March 30, a rumor was spreading like wildfire across the Internet that the Chinese government was immediately banning the exporting of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices worldwide. Since almost 90% of these products come from China, particularly for American vape shop owners, retailers and wholesalers, this information was extremely frightening. As social media began to flood with reports of small business owners threatening to jump from the nearest tall building, the hubbub ended almost as quickly as it began. It was simply an April Fools vaping prank gone horribly wrong.
(Courtesy of RapGenius.com)
Mr. Long Dong
Rumors like this are examples of how a well-written headline can lead silly Tweeters to make a nonsensical post go viral within hours. If they had bothered to read the articles regarding an alleged Chinese ban, they would have quickly discovered that it was all a silly joke.
First of all, the Chinese official who would be overseeing the fictitious governmental takeover was a man by the name of Chief Long Dong who works for an agency called the Xinsha Tobacco Authority. According to Mr. Long Dong, all countries around the globe would no longer get their box mods and vape batteries, even if they have a paid receipt in hand. Nothing was going out of the country, effective immediately. End of discussion.
Fake Websites of the April Fools Vaping Prank
It’s really rather alarming how gullible some people can be. The websites on which these falsified articles appear are poorly designed imitations of very reputable newspapers, like The New York Times and the Los Angeles Business Journal. The jokesters simply bought a bunch of domains with variations of the originals. Nytimes.com became TimesNewYork.com. TheLAjournal.com transformed into LABusinessJournal.com. And the fake website ThePhiladelphiaJournal.com is for a newspaper that no longer exists. It was absorbed by the New York Times a long time ago.
Operation “Puff Not”
Another red flag was the name of the Chinese e-cig export ban. Eloquent Mr. Long Dong gave it the very American-sounding name of Operation “Puff Not.” Spinfuel Magazine got ahold of the story, and one of its reporters even interviewed a CEO of a vape shop chain named Atom Vapes. According to the CEO, his company was already “experiencing delays in orders.”
The power of suggestion can be a funny and sometimes cruel thing. Imagine how silly the CEO felt when moments later everyone figured out that Operation Puff Not was just a silly April Fools vaping prank. Even though it caused a few hours of confusion on the Internet, the execution of the silly hoax was truly impeccable. Happy April Fool’s Day, Vaping Community. You just got punked!