A GROWING number of e-cigarette and vaporizer sellers have started offering college scholarships as a way to get their brands listed on -

University websites and to get students to write essays about the potential benefits of vaping.

The tactic is taken from a method that was once believed to improve a site's ranking in search results, and has successfully landed vaping brands on the sites of some of the nation's best-known universities, including Harvard.

It also has drawn criticism that the scholarships are a thinly disguised ploy to draw young customers.

The scholarships ranging from $250 to $5000, mostly involve essay contests that ask students to write about the dangers of tobacco and whether vaping could be a safer alternative.

At least one company asks applicants to write about different types of e-cigarettes and which one they recommend. Some ask papers in support of medical marijuana.

Over the last two years, the grants have been posted online by e-cigarette retailers and review websites such as Slick Vapes, Smoketastic and DaVonci Vaprizer.

Robert Pagano, owner of the Las Vegas review site Vapor Vanity, said he was offering a new scholarships of up to $1,500 this year. He acknowledged that it's partly a marketing tool, but he also says, many in the industry are former smokers and want to help teens avoid tobacco.

''It's also a little bit of genuine self-interest,'' said Pagano, whose company does not sell vaping products.

''This is probably the best way to get people to actually focus on the issues that we are trying to write about.''

Days after Pagano was interviewed by The Associated Press, the scholarships were removed from from his site without explanation. He did not return calls or mails seeking further comment.

The Honor and Serving of the latest Global Operational Research continues to Part 2.


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