The tobacco industry has a kids menu.

The tobacco industry uses fun flavors and tech devices to hook kids on nicotine. Why kids? A developing brain is easier to addict.

In the early days of vaping, tobacco companies had evidence that kids were customers, but didn’t stop it. Instead, they created more flavors, newer tech, and trendier accessories tailor-made for teens. In 2018, the US Surgeon General declared vaping a youth epidemic, but corrective FDA policy has been undermined by the tobacco industry. Today, the rate of youth vaping is more than double what it was two years ago. And judging by the industry’s new crop of flavored vapes, they’re just getting started.

In the early days of vaping, tobacco companies had evidence that kids were customers, but didn’t stop it. Instead, they created more flavors, newer tech, and trendier accessories tailor-made for teens.

In 2018, the US Surgeon General declared vaping a youth epidemic, but corrective FDA policy has been undermined by the tobacco industry.

Today, the rate of youth vaping is more than double what it was two years ago. And judging by the industry’s new crop of flavored vapes, they’re just getting started.

A recent sudden lung illness outbreak
from vaping has affected more than a
thousand people; the youngest is 13.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1x

Teens are nearly 7x more likely
to vape nicotine than adults.

American College of Physicians

Marijuana vaping among youth has

increased by 58% in a single year

Institute for Social Research

4 out of 5 kids who vape nicotine use flavors

National Institutes of Health
1x

Kids 15-17 years old are
16x more likely to use
Juul than older groups

Truth Initiative

Kids report vaping

as early as 12 years old

NBC

An FDA Policy With a Dangerous Loophole

The youth vaping epidemic has finally prompted FDA action. Victory? Not by a long shot. Pressure from the tobacco industry created a dangerous loophole that lets kids continue to get vapes in thousands of flavors.

 

And kids may be able to buy pre-filled flavored products, like Juul pods, in the future. That’s because manufacturers still can apply for FDA approval to sell their products.

FDA policy does not allow:

  • Any pre-filled flavored vape pods that snap into vapes like Juul pods, except menthol or tobacco flavors.

FDA policy allows:

  • All refillable flavored vapes, like Suorin and Smok.
  • All single-use disposable flavored vapes, like Puff Bar.
  • Pre-filled menthol and tobacco-flavored pods.

KIDS CAN STILL GET THESE VAPES

Despite the FDA flavors policy, vapes are still available to kids in these three forms.

Pre-Filled Pod Vapes
  • JUUL
  • PHIX
Refillable Vapes
  • SUORIN DROP
  • VAPE PEN
Single-Use Disposable Vapes
  • PUFF BAR
  • POSH VAPE

The Breakdown

How can the industry still sell flavored disposable vapes?

The FDA restricts pre-filled flavored pods. Single-use disposable vapes don’t have pods. So Puff Bar, Posh, and other disposables sail right through the loophole onto shelves. The tobacco industry is free to market high-potency nicotine in kid-friendly flavors for as little as ten bucks a pop. No surprise they’re now trending in schools.

How did Juul get off easy?

They phased out the flavors that eventually became restricted. Did Juul benefit from being partly owned and operated by Big Tobacco giant, Altria, giving them access to seasoned lobbyists? It’s possible. What’s certain is that the vape widely seen as the culprit of the epidemic is largely unaffected by the FDA’s flavors policy.

NICOTINE = BRAIN POISON

NICOTINE = BRAIN POISON

Flavors mask the harsh taste of tobacco which makes it easier for kids to smoke — and most kids don’t know that flavored e-cigarettes are high in nicotine.

Flavors

The tobacco industry is hooking the next generation of addicts, and flavors are a big way in. Four out of five kids who have used tobacco started with a flavored product.

Those numbers suggest that most underaged users might never have tried vaping if tobacco tasted like tobacco. From Juul’s popular mango to thousands of options available for Suorin and other open systems, flavors hook kids on a drug known to be as addictive as heroin.

Nicotine

The rise in teen vaping is finally news. But we need to know more about kids’ consumption of nicotine, such as how high the doses, and how great the risks.

Modern devices can have up to 6x the nicotine concentration of first generation e-cigs, putting kids at risk of not only a nicotine addiction, but substance addiction of all kinds.

Poison

Nicotine is one of the most toxic of all poisons. It can rewire the brain, particularly vulnerable in the developing years, from adolescence to mid-twenties. In what ways?

Nicotine changes the teen brain and affects attention, learning, and memory. It can worsen stressors already challenging in adolescence:

 

  • Impulsivity
  • Learning difficulties
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings

 

But unlike other adolescent phases, changes to the brain from nicotine can be permanent.

Know The Signs

Know The Signs

People with lung damage from vaping typically have symptoms that start a few days to a few weeks before they go see a doctor. All people hospitalized developed some type of breathing problems, but many people also have other symptoms. The symptoms reported by those who have gotten sick are:

  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

For more information on the risks of vaping, read “Vaping Related Lung Illness: A Summary of the Public Health Risks and Recommendations for the Public

  • Are there sweet or fruity smells coming from behind closed doors? That might actually be nicotine hiding in vape flavors.
  • Are there school supplies or tech products you don’t recognize in kids’ backpacks or rooms? How about small vials or eye dropper bottles?
  • Have you come across unfamiliar chargers, coils, or batteries?
  • Have there been changes in your kids’ behavior such as increased mood swings, irritability, anxiety, or impulsivity?
  • Are your kids suffering from more frequent headaches or nausea?

While California State Law prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21, kids still manage to get it.

Here are six common ways:

  • Vape products are all over social media, and many promote the sale of their products right from their accounts.
  • Website age gates are easily bypassed, and kids use a parent’s name for shipping. In fact, kids successfully buy e-cigs online 94% of the time.*
  • Clerks at tobacco shops, vape stores, gas stations and convenience stores might not enforce the California Tobacco 21 law, which prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 years of age.  
  • Many vape companies have names that wouldn’t raise a red flag on parents’ credit card statements.
  • Online orders can be delivered to Amazon lockers in supermarkets or convenience stores.
  • Orders can also be shipped to the homes where parent(s) are at work when the mail comes.
  • Kids are buying and selling pods, and even single hits, in schools.

Do Something

Emails matter. Send yours in 3 clicks.

The tobacco industry targets kids with flavors. Reaching out to your mayor can make a difference. Enter your name, choose your city, and we’ll direct your email to your city’s mayor.

I'm Living in

Dear Mayor

After the recent vaping illness outbreak that hospitalized so many young people, I was relieved to hear about the FDA policy restricting flavored vaping products. Then I learned about the huge loophole that still lets the tobacco industry keep thousands of flavors, including menthol, on the market. Now I’m angry. 

The FDA policy loophole is a win for tobacco companies. And when they win, our kids lose—with addiction, lung damage, and brain changes that could last their lifetimesLet’s not let the tobacco industry get away with this. Nearly 70 California jurisdictions have already restricted the sale of ALL flavored tobacco products, including menthol, to protect their kids. We need your leadership on every aspect of the youth vaping epidemic now more urgently than ever.

Thank you for your leadership in the fight to stop the tobacco industry from targeting our kids. Banning the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes was an important step. Unfortunately, despite our local ban and an FDA policy, menthol-flavored products are still on the market and available to kids. So the flavor widely recognized as Big Tobacco’s starter product is still on the market.

The FDA’s dangerous policy loophole is a win for tobacco companies. And when they win, our kids lose—with addiction, lung damage, and brain changes that could last their lifetimes 

Let’s not let the tobacco industry get away with this. Nearly 70 California jurisdictions have already restricted the sale of ALL flavored tobacco products, including menthol, to protect their kids. We need your continued leadership on every aspect of the youth vaping epidemic now more urgently than ever.

Thank you for your leadership in the fight to protect our kids from targeting by the tobacco industry. I’m so grateful that our city has banned the sale of flavored tobacco products. We’re helping to keep kids safe from the serious health risks of nicotine.

Sadly, underage vaping continues to grow. I hope more people will work toward reversing the rise in teen vaping. California kids deserve the chance to live a healthy, nicotine-free childhood.

Sincerely,

START THE CONVERSATION

Here's what Californians are saying about the vaping epidemic.

THE GUIDE

Steps to end the youth epidemic

  • How to talk to kids

  • What to do if your teen is addicted

  • How to get schools on board

  • Ten quick facts about nicotine and adolescence

  • Activities to do with teens

View the Guide

In The News

Learn More

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