So in the activism world there has been a lot of focus on Electronic Vaping Devices for the last year because of how fast their popularity has grown amongst young people. They are literally everywhere now and last year they were limited to being purchased online for a hefty price. When the industry released the idea of “vaping” there was talk about how these new products were going to be a faster way for people to get addicted to nicotine and transition into a tobacco addiction. However, today that is not the case; young people are purchasing these products because of their aesthetic appeal, low price, flavoring, promise of a healthy alternative to tobacco, a right to freedom by using them everywhere without restricting smoke free laws and the liberty to decide the amount of nicotine in their device.
These products are a huge concern because they are not regulated and they are available to young people. Not to mention that nicotine delivery devices are being marketed the exact same way that tobacco was in the 50’s and 60’s. The tobacco industry is up to its old tricks and props to them for finding this big loophole in the policies that have controlled their actions in the past.
For example: the industry has always been known for their advertising and aesthetic appeal that they have used to market their products. These new products are no different and with the incorporation of technology there is no limit to what they will come up with. Pictured on the left is the latest e-cig on the market that features bluetooth technology to connect to the users cell phone and play music, obviously targeting a young audience.
The industry is known for selling their products at a cheap price to appeal to a younger audience and fighting tax increases, as these products become more popular they are also becoming cheaper and more accessible to youth. Most young people that are getting access to these vaping devices are using the internet because there is no way to confirm that they are 18.
So, by now you are probably wondering why nicotine is such a big issue if it is not tobacco. Well, nicotine is the addictive component of tobacco that is also proven to be harmful on the heart and cause cancer. Honestly, we all know that tobacco is bad and, with increased regulations on the industry that are being implemented by legislature, every year less and less people are using tobacco products. With these new nicotine delivery devices there is no regulation and the number of people using and getting addicted to nicotine is on a steady rise, which means that the number of people affected by the health effects from nicotine is also on a rise. The biggest question that I have about these new devices is: “What will happen long term?” The answer is that no one knows because of how new vaping devices are.
Recently the government, through FDA regulation, made all flavoring in tobacco products (except menthol) illegal because it appealed to youth. Since these new products are not tobacco products and are not regulated they do containflavoring and youth are highly attracted to the varieties that they canchoose from. Yet another way the industry is doing the exact same thing that they have done in the past.
Before the world understood how bad tobacco is the industry promoted the idea that their products were healthy and that they were endorsed by doctors. Everyone believed that tobacco was a medicine and that it would lead to a long prosperous life. This mentality did not change until US Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry released the first Surgeon Generals Report linking tobacco use to cancer 50 years ago. So 50 years later what have we learned? Obviously not a lot because they are marketing these new products as a health device, as healthier than tobacco and even as cessation devices, they are getting endorsed by doctors who use them in their practice to help people “quit” tobacco and use only nicotine because its “healthy”. Seriously, why should we believe them? There is no definitive proof that these products are safer or healthier like they are marketing them to be.
As well, the industry markets these products as a way for us to take back our rights and liberties that have been taken away by smoke-free indoor air laws, which were enacted to secure the health and lives of millions of people. The industry does not care about your liberties or rights because they knowingly take away your right to life by selling and marketing a product that when used as directed kills. Even worse is that they want their users addiction to affect everyone around them. No one was born a smoker, it is something that is learned and taught by the industry, so there for it is not someones right to smoke. As far as second hand vapor being safer than second hand smoke, there is no evidence to prove that it is safer, it is easy to assume that it is by the nature of the vapor compared to smoke, but there is now proven health risks with being exposed to second hand nicotine vapor from an E-Cig. Dr. Valerie Yerger from the Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education at UCSF said that through recent research they have found “fiberglass and particulates in the vapor”. There has also been a recent study done by UCSF for the World Health Organization on Electronic Cigarettes that highlights the findings from these recent studies. Link to study: http://arizonansconcernedaboutsmoking.com/201312e-cig_report.pdf
And lastly, the advertising of these new products is appalling to say the least. They have zero regulation when it comes to what they can do to reach youth and get them using these products. The ads for E-Cigs are everywhere! six flags, malls, grocery/convenience/gas station stores, TV, Radio, Online, Social Media, Video Games, Magazines, News Papers, Sporting Events, etc. Literally they are everywhere that it is illegal for the industry to put tobacco ads, because they know that these key ad spots are where youth are most likely to see them. They glorify this idea of vaping and use celebrities to endorse their products. The celebrities don’t even have to be in an E-Cig commercial, they can just be vaping in the audience during the Grammys or VMAs and everyone will know about it. This industry is not stupid, they know what they are doing and they are the experts at manipulating youth into buying their deadly products.
In conclusion, the industry has found a way to change the game with tobacco use and we, as activists, need to fight back against these new products by continuing to progress legislation that restricts the advertising and sale of these products to minors as well as regulates them like tobacco is now being regulated by the FDA. We have to be the first people to get to the youth when it comes to educating them about these products so that they don’t hear the rumored “benefits” from using these products compared to tobacco. This is still a drug like tobacco, it is still addictive and it still kills people.