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Prevention Talks: Pandora’s Box

July 9, 2018 11:46 am Updated: July 9, 2018 11:50 am

 

Advertising has everything to do with the recent meteoric rise in popularity of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. Advertising designed to attract the attention of young people, product placement in convenience stores, appealing packaging and the introduction of kid friendly flavors created a highly desirable product. The tobacco market is now dominated by smokeless tobacco and vaping products of all kinds. Flavored cigars, smokeless tobacco products entice. E- hookahs, e-cigarettes, vape mods, mods, and the most recent and wildly successful Juul device are the latest iterations of the cigarette. Here’s the bonus, the manufactures claim e-cigarettes are safe.

A decline in smoking over the last few decades forced the tobacco industry to create new markets. A major break-thru, for tobacco companies came in 2006-2007 when E-cigarettes burst onto the US marketplace. These new devices were advertised as “Safe Alternatives” to cigarettes and useful in helping smokers “Quit.” Best of all they could be used in public places where smoking is banned, are easily hidden from the eyes of parents and teachers, and have no telltale scent of cigarette smoke. Popularity of these products skyrocketed. The appeal to kids was overwhelming. The National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) found that from 2011-2015 e-cigarette use among high school increased ten-fold from 1.5 percent to 16 percent. The 2016 Monitoring the Future study determined that, “the prevalence of e-cigarette use continues to exceed that of all other tobacco products.”

Flavor is a huge factor here. A government study shows that 81 percent of kids who never used tobacco products started with flavored products. The 2016 surgeon General Report on e-cigarettes states that youth and young adults cite flavors among the most commonly cited reasons for using e-cigarettes. Lorillard Inc. cautioned parents stating on their website, “Kids may be particularly vulnerable to trying e-cigarettes due to an abundance of fun flavors such as cherry vanilla, Pina colada and berry.”

Safe. Really? What tobacco companies fail to say is that E-cigarettes, vapes, and Juuls, have potentially serious harmful effects. Let’s look at how e-cigarettes work. The Surgeon General defines e-cigarettes as “devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales.” Ninety-Five percent of all liquids contain nicotine, an additive product, as well as flavoring and other additives. E-cigarettes are considered tobacco products because most of them contain nicotine. How can they be safe when nicotine, a highly addictive substance, that increases heart rate and causes plaque to clog arteries is being inhaled? Increase in heart attack and stroke in smokers is attributed to nicotine use. Nicotine can damage young people’s brains and is toxic to a developing fetus, impairing the brain and lung development. The amount of nicotine in one Juul pod is equivalent to ONE FULL PACK OF CIGARETTES. Nicotine poisoning is possible from sniffing, drinking or touching as little as ½ teaspoon of the liquid. What’s in the liquids? Formaldehyde (remember dissecting frogs), heavy metals, cadmium (car batteries), lead, nickel, tin, acetone (nail polish remover). These are just a few of the hundreds of carcinogenic substances the user is exposed to. The list is long and terrifying. Since there is no regulation on these products, there is no way to know exactly what components are in any one of the liquids sold or what health hazards they pose. One thing is for certain, we know that initiation of nicotine use in youngsters leads to nicotine addiction.

Education is our best defense. Parents, “Talk to Your Kids, They Listen.”