While inhaling the nicotine-laced vapor of electronic cigarettes seems to be replacing smoking as the fashionable delivery system for nicotine, the product’s key ingredient is an addictive stimulant that should not be marketed to children.
Many of us are old enough to remember Joe Camel, the cool confident cartoon character perpetually puffing on his namesake cigarette. Amid criticism and litigation, the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company retired the mascot in 1997. One accusation was that the cartoon spokescamel targeted youth as “tomorrow’s smokers.”
A little over a decade ago, electronic cigarettes began to be advertised on American television, typically marketed as a way for smokers to get their fix where smoking is prohibited or as an aid to quit smoking. Soon “vaping” became a trend in its own right, with advertisements claiming or implying that the practice is safer or at least less offensive than smoking.
On top of all that, vape products come in a variety of fun flavors! Cherry, cinnamon and vanilla are just a few of the enticing flavors that your local vape shop may have in common with a nearby ice cream stand.
In the wake of a spate of illnesses and a few deaths that doctors have linked to vaping, it may be the case that vape products flooded the market before adequate research was done. Perhaps these products are not a safer alternative to smoking after all.
In the meantime, the Trump administration has proposed a ban on vape flavors other than tobacco. We don’t know if the vape companies’ intention is to target young consumers, but we can reasonably guess that cherry or vanilla flavored cigarettes would never see the light of day.
While we don’t begrudge the right of informed, consenting adults to indulge in the guilty pleasure of their choice, we see no merit in making addictive substances more palatable to the younger demographic.