Guest Column: Tobacco Industry Targeting Teens With Vaping
Thanks to the tobacco and vaping industries targeting our youth, Berkshire County has experienced an increase in the use of e-cigarettes, such as the JUUL, by young people.
In my job, I speak with people throughout our region about the dangers of tobacco and about how the tobacco industry targets kids. Usually, they are alarmed and surprised to learn that youth use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices such as JUUL is not just another harmless fad, but that these products contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance that is getting youth hooked. Nearly 24 percent of high-school-aged youth in Massachusetts report using e-cigarettes and almost 45 percent have used them at least once.
Why are so many youth vaping? E-cigarette liquids come in more than 8,000 different flavors — from Swedish Fish, to s'mores, to bubblegum — that are familiar and attractive to young people. And it's working. Flavors are the leading reason that youth use e-cigarettes and the nicotine in these products leads to sustained use. We don't want youth to become the next generation of tobacco users, but the tobacco and vaping industries do, and flavored e-cigarettes and vape pens are making it possible.
More high school youth in Massachusetts are now using e-cigarettes than all other tobacco products combined, AND they are using them nine times more often than adults. The tobacco industry has made these products SWEET, CHEAP, and EASY to get because they know that 90 percent of adult tobacco users started using tobacco before their 18th birthday. As parents and concerned adults, we can work together to prevent youth from becoming the next generation of customers for the tobacco and vaping industries.
Talk with your teenagers about vaping and learn about their school's policy on it. Make sure they know that vaping is harmful and that nicotine is addictive and affects their brain development negatively. Effects of youth exposure to nicotine include increased risk for depression, mood disorders, or future drug addiction.
For more information contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (413)236-2145, or Jim Wilusz at email@example.com or (413)243-5540. Find out how you can support local action in Berkshire County to stop Big Tobacco from sweet talking our kids. Also please visit GetOutraged.org.
Joyce Brewer is the program manager of the Berkshire Tobacco Free Community Partnership Berkshire Area Health Education Center
Tags: smoking awareness,
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