The New York Times this week has an interesting cover story about how e-cigarettes are gaining popularity among adolescents. The article states that the devices are being so cleverly branded and marketed that many kids don’t even know that they are cigarettes.
They are known by a slew of other names such as “e-hookahs” or “vape pipes.” But they all perform the same function as e-cigarettes. They produce nicotine highs, contain unknown chemicals and are totally unregulated. They also come in a rainbow or colors and candy-sweet flavors that are particularly attractive to young consumers – as young as kids in middle school.
A Fast-Growing Problem
Public health officials are worried and for good reason. Here are products that deliberately avoid the term “e-cigarette” because of the negative connotation there. Particularly troubling is the fact that many teens view e-cigarettes and e-hookahs as completely different products when in fact they are one and the same. They are all nicotine delivery devices. A survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 10 percent of high school students nationwide had tried e-cigarettes in 2012, twice the number from the year before.
However, now they think they’ve asked the wrong question and that the number would be much higher had they asked the students if they smoke e-hookahs or vaping pens. The problem, health officials say, is that these devices could lead young people to cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to announce regulations that would give it control over e-cigarettes, now a $3-billion industry.
Marketing to the Youth
The Times talked to several high school students who are of the belief that hookah pens are for doing tricks like blowing smoke rings and are less dangerous than e-cigarettes. Students believe that these devices just have water vapor and flavor when a study by the FDA showed that they contain carcinogens and even a harmful chemical found in antifreeze.
It’s the power of marketing and branding. E-cigarette companies have succeeded in spreading misinformation about their products – information that can harm millions of young Americans. While denying that they are targeting young consumers, e-cigarette makers hawk flavors such as cinnamon apple, banana nut bread, chocolate candy bar, vanilla cupcake and coconut bomb. They range in nicotine concentration from zero all the way up to 24 milligrams – as much as a pack of 20 ordinary cigarettes. There is no question that this is an opportunity for tobacco companies to grow a new consumer base. And they are doing their best to catch them young.
If you have an adolescent or teen affected by the ills of e-cigarettes you can contact our e-Cig class action lawyers for more information.