Bubble gum. Blueberry cotton candy. Candy corn. Gummy bear. Swedish fish.
Sounds like flavors of your kid’s favorite candy, right? But did you know they are also appealing flavors for e-cigarettes amongst tweens and teens?
Yep. The newest fad smoking, er, “vaping” our nation’s youth is e-cigarettes. So, what are electronic-cigarettes? They are battery-operated devices that emit doses of vaporized nicotine inhaled by users. You can purchase flavored cartridges with either nicotine or non-nicotine solutions in an array of flavors.
So why the concern? In February, Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics found that adolescents who smoke e-cigarettes are seven times more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes. Not only are E-cigarette companies are targeting kids with candy and dessert flavors, but also by using celebrities like Courtney Love and Jenny McCarthy, cartoon characters, catchy slogans and of course making it look sexy, cool, and fun to smoke. There is also a surge in poisoning in kids from exposure to the liquid nicotine cartridges.
Thus far, e-cigs are not regulated by the federal government. Regulation has come in form of state by state decisions. What this means is your kids can use their hard-earned babysitting money and walk into a store or purchase easily online. Don’t even have to be 18. Our Federal government just hasn’t quite caught up with e-cigarette technology nor have they wrapped their hands around the health consequences for minors. Traditional tobacco giants such as Reynolds American Inc. are salivating at their opportunity to target youth. Quick, lock up your teens, now!
We have spent years educating America’s youth about the dangers of cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoking amongst teens is at its lowest rate. With e-cigarettes, it becomes one step forward, two steps back. According to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 middle school students who’ve tried one say they’ve never smoked a “real” cigarette. And between 2011 and 2012, e-cigarettes doubled in popularity among middle and high school students. Social media is lighting up with photos of teens performing vaper smoke tricks. Check out #Vapelife on Twitter and you’ll be amazed at all the photos. Want to vape in the movie theater? No problemo.
For adult lifelong smokers, I do see the benefits of switching to a lower nicotine option in order to curb a smoking addiction. But E-cigarette businesses, keep your filthy paws off my kids. Act responsibly and refuse to market and sell to minors.
In the meantime, I encourage everyone to not only re-educate your kids, but press your elected officials to regulate the e-cigarette industry. Thankfully it’s illegal to sell e-cigarettes to a minor in the State of Washington. But, oh so easy for them to still purchase online.
Responsible marketing? Hell no.