While regular cigarettes cannot be advertised on television, e-cigarette ads are common. Still a relatively new alternative, use of electronic cigarettes has already doubled in one year (2011-2012) among middle school and high school students. Although the percentage of those using e-cigarettes is still in the minority (1.8 million young people), many young people see their popularity as a symbol of being cool and adult.
E-cigarettes use liquid nicotine as the inhaler. Because there is no tobacco in them, they are exempt from tobacco laws. Regulation has yet to ban them from being used indoors and advertisers use a macho or sexy image to sell. About half the states currently allow children under 18 to purchase them.
It is currently unknown what, if any, long term health effects e-cigarettes will have. While there may be a role to use it in a medically designed program to quit smoking, we definitely don’t encourage its use in any other way. We consider this device to be one that moves the teenager along in the world of addictive behaviors, with the next step being the use of regular cigarettes.
If you as a parent are thinking of using the device to help you quit smoking, please be frank with your children that it’s a tool to help you quit—just like the patch or the Nicorette gum.
The tobacco industry will tell you they are providing a safer solution. What they don’t tell you is that they are shoring up their bottom line.
You may also be interested in the following article: