Substitute Online Tobacco Class Over an E Cigarette for Breakfast

by Mike Miller November 24, 2013

Advertising is a powerful thing. Often times we do not even realize the effect advertising has on us until after we have desired a product. I have now gained fodder for three blog entries based on one very pretty advertisement I saw on the door of my local Starbucks.

As a counselor for tobacco classes, I have witnessed hundreds of people working hard to keep our nation’s youth away from cigarettes and nicotine. Finally, in 2012, smoking among teens was at its lowest level in more than half a century. As reported in parenting.blogs.nytimes.com.

Now, it seems that all that progress is about to vaporize. “Smoking,” at least in the form of vaping, is becoming "cool". This week, the Centers for Disease Control reported that 1.8 million middle and high-school students said they had tried e-cigarettes in 2012 — double the number from the previous year.

While the Food and Drug Administration is still studying the issue, a 2009 F.D.A. analysis of e-cigarettes found that they contained carcinogens and toxic chemicals, including an ingredient used in antifreeze. And health officials are concerned that for many young people, e-cigs will become a gateway to smoking regular cigarettes.

The Celebrity of an E-Cig

Meanwhile, companies vying for a stake in the fast-growing e-cigarette business are clearly updating the playbook once used successfully by the tobacco industry to hook a new generation of tech-savvy young people. Countless celebrities — like Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Moss and Robert Pattinson — have been photographed vaping. Other stars have “lit up” on television shows like “Saturday Night Live.”

There are sports sponsorships, celebrity pitchmen and free samples handed out like candy at underground parties. In fact, with e-cig flavors like cola, chocolate, lemonade and cherry crush, they are being pushed like candy — and unquestionably aimed at kids.

In California, the state with the toughest antismoking laws in the country, vapor shops are popping up faster than Starbucks.

Did you know that only 11 states currently place any restriction on who can buy e-cigarettes — a shameful lack of regulation as compared with the laws governing tobacco products. Federal law prohibits the sale of tobacco to people under the age of 18, while four states have raised that to 19; New York City is considering increasing it to 21. Should e-cigs really be treated differently?

Makers of electronic cigarettes are trying to legitimize the product by saying that they are providing current smokers a healthier alternative — not trying to attract young people to become first-time users.

I welcome your thoughts on the issue.

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