I have never vaped. I did smoke. When I was 14, I started having a cigarette here and there, usually when friends and I would head down to the teen dance clubs in Portland, Oregon. The harsh flavors of a Camel or Marlboro didn’t really do it for me when I started. Fortunately, for the cigarette industry, there were clove cigarettes that smelled sweet and made your lip numb.
Vaping and e-cigarettes didn’t exist back then, but I can see in the video above how it could have easily been my gateway to smoking, much like how clove cigarettes became packs of Marlboro Reds later for me (I did eventually quit in my early 20s.)
Like clove cigarettes, e-cigarettes come in flavors that today make cloves sound dull. According to some research out of Yale, appealing flavors was one of the top reasons students experimented with e-cigarettes. E-liquids come in a variety of flavors like Fruit Loops and Cap’n Crunch that are enticing to youth.
Now as a dad with twin boys with only one year of elementary school left, I have to start thinking about these things. Knowing my past of succumbing to cigarettes in my foolish youth, it’ s important to know what has changed in 30 years and how the tobacco industry has found new ways to hook kids.
Here are some tips on what we can do as parents.
What Can You Do As a Parent?
As a parent, you are the first step in preventing the next generation of smokers. But it’s often tough to know how to talk to your kids about a product or subject that is constantly evolving. Below are some tips on what you can do to educate and keep your children safe from the risks associated with e-cigarettes and vaping:
- Talk to your kids. E-cigarettes are purposefully designed to appeal to a younger audience with fruit and, candy flavored “e-juice” marketed by celebrities. Have a conversation with your children clarifying that while commercials make e-cigarettes appear safe and trendy, there are many known health threats that accompany vaping.
- Set Expectations. Express disappointment, rather than anger, toward the idea of your children vaping. Let them know that nicotine and the other chemicals found in e-cigarettes are dangerous and could be a gateway to smoking traditional cigarettes.
- Be a role model. E-cigarettes are everywhere today, and kids are receiving an abundance of exposure through advertisements, smoke shops and friends. If you are a smoker and are using e-cigarettes to help you quit, avoid vaping around your kids. The more they see you, the more legitimate your actions and behavior will appear to them.
- Remove the threat. The candy and fruit flavors of e-cigarettes greatly appeal to children, who may mistakenly drink the e-liquid. E-liquid and e-cigarette batteries are poisonous and can be life-threatening if swallowed. If you are using e-cigarettes, never leave e-cigarettes or e-liquid where children can get them. Contact the California Poison Control System right away at 1-800-222-1222 if any e-liquid is swallowed, gets on the skin or in the eyes.
- Get Involved. Help protect youth from the potential harmful effects of e-cigarettes and e-liquid by encouraging their regulation, including the regulation of manufacturing practices, childproof packaging, and the elimination of flavors.
For more information, visit stillblowingsmoke.org.
DISCLOSURE: This post includes information provided to me from TobaccoFreeCA. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.