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.
A recent sudden lung illness outbreak
from vaping has affected more than a
thousand people; the youngest is 13.
Teens are nearly 7x more likely
to vape nicotine than adults.
Marijuana vaping among youth has
increased by 58% in a single yearInstitute for Social Research
4 out of 5 kids who vape nicotine use flavorsNational Institutes of Health
Kids 15-17 years old are
16x more likely to use
Juul than older groups
Kids report vaping
as early as 12 years old
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.
- SUORIN DROP
- VAPE PEN
- PUFF BAR
- POSH VAPE
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Learning difficulties
- Mood swings
But unlike other adolescent phases, changes to the brain from nicotine can be permanent.
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:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- 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.
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Here's what Californians are saying about the vaping epidemic.
One of the biggest problems with vaping is how paranoid and easily irritated I am, as I’m always watching my back to make sure I don't get caught. ”
As usual, my kid knew more about the subject than I did, but I was ready. The conversation starters helped make this important talk not just another lecture. ”
Kids can control that amount of vapor being released so it’s not as easy to see when they are vaping as people think it is. They can, and do, hide them anywhere – bras, makeup, underwear, feminine hygiene products, pockets – and we can’t search students so that’s a real challenge. ”
I think that when students think about nicotine, they know it’s not good but feel like e-cigs don’t have much [nicotine], so it’s not a problem. They hear commercials about people using Juul to stop smoking and they think Juul is better than a cigarette. ”
Kids will use any e-cigarette they can get their hands on easily. They are buying credit card type gift cards then using those to purchase the devices online. We’ve seen every shape, size and brand come through our office. ”
I can’t believe tobacco flavored products look exactly like the candy my children eat. ”
I am very aware of flavored tobacco products and the sad thing is, so is my son. He could probably tell you more about products as a 10-year-old than most adults. ”
I am hearing about an increase of student’s vaping at school and increase suspension related to vaping. Students are asked if they want to join vaping. It’s a real concern. ”
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