According to a recently released report by the US Surgeon General, research has confirmed that there has been a significant increase in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use in recent years. Just last year alone, in 2015, the increase of electronic cigarette use has more than doubled particularly among our youth (ages 11 – 14), adolescents (ages 15 – 17) and in our young adults (ages 18 – 25) with more than 3 million youth in middle and high school using electronic cigarettes within the past 30 days. A cash cow for the tobacco industry, these numbers are increasing daily. More than 85 percent of electronic cigarette users ages 12 – 17 use flavored e-liquids, which come in a large variety of flavors, and are especially appealing to youth. And the flavors are the leading reason for youth use, according to the Surgeon General’s report.
Tobacco companies have been ramping up their marketing strategies to attract and cause young people to start using electronic cigarettes. In the United States, $3.5 billion dollars in sales is big business for the industry. Electronic cigarette manufacturers spent $125 million dollars in advertising their products with retail stores becoming the most frequent source of youth exposure to the tobacco industry’s advertising approaches. The tobacco industry has gone back to its old tactics that are much the same as the ones used to promote the conventional tobacco products.
Unlike the marketing campaigns of yesteryear, advertising approaches and themes today have a significant advantage with the use of internet and social media creating a more effective and wider outreach to attract youth and young adults, causing them to start using tobacco products at a much earlier age. In 2014, more than 7 out of 10 middle and high school students stated that they have been exposed to tobacco advertising. Research has shown that youth who use tobacco products like electronic cigarettes or chew, are most likely to go on to use other tobacco products like the traditional tobacco cigarette. In 2015, nearly 6 out of 10 high school cigarette smokers were also using electronic cigarettes.
The tobacco industry has claimed that electronic cigarettes are safer than the traditional tobacco cigarette. The tobacco industry has also claimed that the chemicals in e-liquids are not harmful to the user. The tobacco industry has suggested that electronic cigarettes can and may be used as a cessation tool to quit smoking. On the contrary, the newly released US Surgeon General’s report has confirmed these claims to be myths. The US Surgeon General’s report has busted these myths by saying;
The use of products containing nicotine poses dangers to youth, pregnant women, and fetuses. The use of products containing nicotine in any form among youth, including electronic cigarettes, is unsafe.
The liquid usually has nicotine, which comes from tobacco, flavoring; and other additives. Many electronic cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. The nicotine in electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products can prime young brains for addiction to other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Electronic aerosol is not harmless. The aerosol or vapor created by electronic cigarettes can contain ingredients harmful and potentially harmful to the public’s health.
There have been no conclusive study results or evidence to confirm that electronic cigarettes are a possible cessation tool for those who want to quit smoking. On the contrary, there is sufficient evidence to substantiate that the use of electronic cigarettes promotes users to use both electronic cigarettes along with smoking the conventional tobacco cigarette and that can potentially place the user at risk for exposure to higher levels of nicotine in the body that may ultimately lead to acute toxicity and possible death from over-exposure to nicotine.
The US Surgeon General’s full report titled: E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults, can be found on the Surgeon General’s official website: https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov.