Now is the time to discuss the dangers of flavored tobacco for your children


Unlike tobacco products, electronic cigarettes are not subject to an age limit Use among young people roughly doubled between 2011 and 2012, by which time an estimated 1.78 million students in grades 6 to 12 had tried the devices, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

California – After a year and a half of distance learning and social distancing, children reconnect with socialization after school and between classes.

A return to school also means children are once again exposed to the dangers of vaping and flavored tobacco products, which could worsen with a return to in-person learning.

The problem

The tobacco industry knows that flavored tobacco is highly addictive, and that is why it targets children. Among Californian high school students, 96% of teens who vape use flavored products.

By giving vapers and smokeless tobacco products child-friendly flavors like Blue Razz, Pegasus Milk, and Menthol Freeze, the tobacco industry is mistakenly marketing them as less harmful than cigarettes.

Flavors can mask the harsh taste of tobacco, but they don’t hide toxic chemicals that can damage the lungs and nicotine which is toxic to brain development.

Nicotine addiction is particularly dangerous for children. It rewires the brain to crave it more, creating nicotine withdrawal symptoms including headaches, mood swings and an inability to concentrate. Nicotine even changes the way connections form in the brain and can interfere with attention and learning as well.

Big Tobacco understands these harms, but still uses flavored products to target young people to turn them into lifelong addicts. Many vaping brands now use a highly concentrated form of nicotine called nicotine salts, which is designed for vaping. These “salts” make it easier to inhale higher concentrations and be absorbed faster than regular nicotine, making children addicted even faster.

The tobacco industry is also experimenting with new ways to push nicotine into young people. In rural communities, it markets smokeless chew tobacco and snus, a new product that is a smokeless tobacco pouch. Over 80% of 12 to 17 year olds who have ever consumed snus indicated that the first type of product they used was flavored.

The industry markets these products, especially to young men, featuring images of cowboys, hunters and rugged race car drivers, presenting smoking as a rite of passage. This specific targeting may explain why students in rural and urban schools have more than double the rate of smokeless tobacco use than those in urban or suburban schools.

The good news

The rate of California teens who want to quit vaping doubled from 2018 to 2020, and the majority of California teens believe their close friends view vaping use negatively. Education about the harms of flavored tobacco products works, but with children returning to face-to-face learning, it is crucial to keep moving forward.

Learn more

Children need help to stop the addictive and deadly drugs forced on them by the tobacco industry. Parents and families who want to learn more about the dangers of using flavored tobacco or to find resources to quit smoking can visit www.flavorshookkids.org.

About Margaret Shaw

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