E-Cigarettes, Kids and the Battle to Prevent the Renormalizing of Smoking

Electronic cigarettes have been all over the news as of late, with supporters of the devices continuing to insist they’re a fundamental good. Evidence suggests that when used carefully and for the purpose for which they were (supposedly) intended, it is possible for an electronic cigarette to make it easier for a smoker to cut down or quit.

E-Cigarettes, Kids and the Battle to Prevent the Renormalizing of Smoking

Critics on the other hand see the subject quite differently, insisting that the devices have already been responsible for luring an innumerable army of teenagers and children right into the arms of full-blown nicotine addiction. The general consensus among experts is that that long-term health risks associated with e-cigarette are less severe than those of tobacco, but the try in any way to convey the message that ‘vaping’ is safe is wholly irresponsible.

Just like cigarettes, the liquid used in electronic smoking cessation tools contains nicotine. One of the most addictive substances known to mankind, nicotine has an array of detrimental effects on the body that are inflicted regardless of how the stuff is inhaled. It is a powerful stimulant that gets to work on the body’s central nervous system, it causes blood pressure to spike and also puts additional strain on the heart.

Vaping may cut out some of the chemicals and toxins tobacco contains – other harmful elements remain present, which in some cases are even stronger in concentration.

Now, this wouldn’t be the end of the world if e-cigarettes were responsibly marketed toward and used by a proactive adult audience only. Quite to the contrary however, what we’ve instead been bombarded with is an endless array of brightly colored packages with cute and cuddly graphics, the kinds of celebrity endorsements guaranteed to sway the impressionable and a range of flavors that never fail to make the mouths of preteens water. From bubblegum to candy-floss to gummy bear and more, it’s pretty impossible to deny the direct and thus dangerous appeal such sweet vaping liquids have in the eyes of youngsters.

The only realistic solution to what’s already an epidemic is for the FDA to step in and intensify its efforts to better control and restrict access to both the devices themselves and their respective liquids. As it stands, 38 states have made it illegal to supply minors with such product, but the fact that there are still so many states to follow suits is quite frankly astonishing. And even in states where the ban has been enforced, it’s proving ridiculous easy for kids to pick up liquid refills and electronic devices from pretty much anywhere.

Stopping kids from accessing the devices is only one stage of the solution – the other is to stop making the damn things look cool, elegant, sophisticated and downright delicious. They’re none of the above – they’re dangerously addictive habit-formers that technically serve no positive purpose at all, other than for those already facing an expensive and deadly nicotine addiction.

How can we keep letting the e-cigarette giants get way with duping the nation into once again thinking there’s no harm in smoking?


  1. Sometimes you need a little scary push to quit once for all. I’ve had a close relative die and I immediately quit using “simpleguided smoking plan” without any efforts.

  2. There are laws banning possession off tobacco by children and those are never enforced. What’s up with that? In the mean time I wish ecigs had been around when I was a kid. After you vape for a while cigarettes taste foul. I’m not worried about kid vapers. Parents should decide if their kids can possess an ecig and schools should decide what kids can bring into the building as they always have.

    The 800 pound gorilla is the money. Government owns the tobacco business because they take most of the money. They love the the money and don’t want it to go away. I used to spend $240 a month, $3,000 a year on cigarettes. Today I mix e liquid at home. That costs me $3.60 a month, $45 a year. THAT is why the Tobacco Age is ending and THAT is what governments are so upset about.

    To everyone who benefits from tobacco taxes–go to hell.

  3. Mark Magenis says:

    The problem is the evidence, children smoking is falling faster than ever wherever ecigs are available. Whilst this is only a correlation, it is exactly the opposite of what would be expected if a gateway effect was reality.

  4. Rand Valentine says:

    This opinion piece suffers from the author’s essentially stimulus-bound understanding of so-called e-cigarettes: he will only countenance stimuli (“studies”) that reinforce his a priori view that vaping is evil–while he cites some of the seemingly positive evidence about the benefits of vaping, this is quickly followed by extremely negative commentary, making assertions-of-fact that are either unfounded, e.g., that vaping is producing nicotine addiction among teens (or worse, is serving as a gateway to combustion-based tobacco use), or untrue, e.g., that “vaping MAY cut out some of the chemicals and toxins tobacco contains – other harmful elements remain present, which in some cases are EVEN STRONGER in concentration” (emphasis added). The problem with vaping literature is just this: people with an a priori attitude that vaping is evil do not bother to investigate any claims that reinforce this view. For example, I have no doubt that this author’s claim that there are harmful elements in vapor that exceed those of tobacco is based on a single study that used vaporization temperatures far beyond anything that a human being could stand. If you’re going to present yourself as knowledgeable on vaping, you need to do so responsibly. This article is irresponsible and just adds to the inaccuracy of public understanding, as most due that are written by people with little knowledge of the subject, who then cherry-pick studies that reinforce their a priori views.

    I am a vaper, someone who smoked for decades, but will never go back to tobacco cigarettes. I do not think that vaping is harmless, though I find woefully little objective data on the subject–many vaping studies are funded by e-cigarette makers, and others are funded by entities and institutions who view abstinence as the only acceptable approach to anything remotely having to do with “smoking”. Both are of immensely questionable objectivity. Furthermore, journalists present these already questionable studies in ways that grossly misrepresent research findings, based on preconceived views. Never trust a headline on a vaping article. I agree that tobacco is a pernicious evil, but guilt-by-association is not a valid strategy when it comes to something of such immense potential impact on overall public health.

    Many public health entities were against needle-exchange programs during the heyday of the AIDS epidemic, because abstinence was the only acceptable response to heroin addiction. Marijuana was tradtionally cast as a gateway to heroin. Caffeine can be construed as a great evil if one chooses to focus on its ill effects. 1 in 5 children in the U.S. is now obese, due to consuming foods and beverages of known harm. What about alcohol? It would seem to me that almost all of the ingestibles that people electively enjoy in life can be cast as pernicious social evils. I am not using this line of thinking to promote vaping, only to contextualize the seeming hysteria over its allegedly unique evil. Guard me from the Platonic abstainers. Let us determine the actual risks of vaping, with sound research, rather than simply presenting our biases as objective truth.

  5. Fr. Jack Kearney says:

    Vaping normalizes quitting smoking, not smoking. The science has proven repeatedly that vaping is a relatively safe, evidence-based tool for smoking cessation. Please, let’s use science here instead of theories and politics.

  6. Vern Banks says:

    Over the last 8 weeks, not only have I stopped smoking, but my son, his girlfriend, a couple they know and two of their friends have done the same, largely because of word of mouth recommendation.
    The transition to e-cigarettes from regular cigarettes, is, I believe, largely governed by advice that friends, family and work colleagues will give to smokers if they themselves have found a substantial benefit from this move.
    How e-cigarettes affect society as a whole is of absolutely no consequence whatsoever for those of us who are involved in this change at a personal level.

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