Electronic Cigarette Flavors Target Teens
By Divya Ramamurthi
SRITA: Stanford’s Research into the impact of Tobacco Advertising
As much as e-cigarette manufacturers deny it, the plethora of vape juices for eCigs with sweet flavors and sugary names serve to make them appealing to children and teenagers who are curious to experiment with tobacco products and are taken in by false notions of the “safe nature” of eCigs. The sweet flavored essences help mask the bitterness of tobacco and the nicotine serves to addict teens.
E-cigarettes are manufactured in a variety of flavors with enticing names such as “Cherry Crush”, which promises to provides a “burst of black cheery swaddled in Maraschino,” “Pina Colada,” which hits like a “wave of cayenne pineapple and silky-smooth coconut milk”, “Magnificent Menthol” for a “cool, refreshing feeling,” “STL Gooey Butter Cake” that is “recreating a generational family recipe”, “Snicker Doodle” which offers a “warm cinnamon-sugar cookie flavor,” and “Wine Flavor,” which offers a robust flavor of red wine because “everyone knows that “cigarettes and a wine create the perfect synergy.” In advertising these flavored tobacco products, the images are primarily of brightly colored, appealing fruit that hint at the safety of the product and its tantalizing taste. In addition to these standard flavors, customers at retail “boutique” vape stores can enjoy the novel experience of working with a vapologist to create unique flavors by mixing any number of essences at a variety of nicotine strengths for a personalized vape. Some retail vape bars also have a “tasting bar” much like restaurants where consumers can try a variety of flavors.
Flavored cigarettes and flavored tobacco have long been held to be gateway products for children and teens. There is now a growing concern that the use of flavored eCigs by youth could lead to them experimenting with regular cigarettes. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that rates of eCig use among U.S. youth more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, with 10 percent of high school students admitting to having used eCigs. Almost 76% of youth who had tried an eCig had also tried a regular cigarette. Altogether, in 2012 more than 1.78 million middle and high school students nationwide had tried eCigs1.
In 2009, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) banned flavored cigarettes, except for menthol flavored cigarettes, based on studies that pointed to the high rates of consumption of flavored cigarettes among youth compared to adults over the age of 25. But no such ban applies to flavored cigars, cigarillos, and eCigs. The FDA is considering some kind of regulation of the eCig industry. It remains to be seen whether these actions would include a ban on flavored eCigs.
1.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). E-cigarette use more than doubles among U.S. middle and high school students from 2011-2012. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/p0905-ecigarette-use.html
Holidays were the best time to seduce the public into believing cigarettes were a great gift to share with friends and family. Santa has been in dozens of tobacco ads. In some of the ads he is sweet and cheery and others he is dressed in military uniforms handing out cigarettes to our military men.