Smoking has been a health no-no for so long that we take it for granted. Surely, everyone understands the risks by now, right? Smoking by U.S. adults has declined from 21 percent in 2005 to 14 percent in 2018, and that is good news. But the outlook is not so rosy for kids.
E-cigarettes and other tobacco products like cigarillos, hookah and smokeless tobacco are steadily gaining in popularity with children. In 2018 alone, vaping by high school students in the U.S. doubled from the previous year! What is going on?
Tobacco companies and e-cigarette makers like JUUL are actively targeting kids and young adults with appealing flavors, designs and social media activity. Vaping is promoted as fun and harmless. Many adolescents don’t even know that e-cigs contain nicotine.
The concern is that these products make it easier to:
- Graduate into smoking cigarettes.
- Increase tobacco and nicotine use.
- Experiment with recreational drugs.
It’s a serious public health threat.
How do we fight back?
The “tobacco endgame” – ending tobacco use and nicotine addiction in the U.S. – is within sight. But we need stronger regulation of the design, manufacturing, sales and marketing of all tobacco products. And we must continue to support proven strategies that work, like clean indoor air laws, excise taxes and raising the tobacco sales age to 21.