A patently obvious device used by e-cigarette (e-cig) companies to attract teens is the promotion of youth-oriented flavors. In its flavored product lines, e-cig manufacturers have far exceeded the flavorings used by the combustible tobacco industry. Almost every flavor addictive available in the market is available as a vapor juice. With many e-cig manufacturers allowing consumers to pick and mix their own flavorings, the possibilities are endless.
e-cigs and vapor juices are available in a number of alcoholic flavors including beer, pina colada, mojito, margarita, brandy, whiskey, gin & tonic, amaretto, wine cigar, and sangria. By advertising alcoholic flavored e-cigs and vapor juices, e-cig manufacturers are appealing to teenager to break two adult taboos at once — alcohol and smoking — in a single activity.
Flavored cigarettes and flavored tobacco have long been held as a gateway product for children and teens. There is now growing concern that the use of flavored e-cigs by youth could lead to them experimenting with regular cigarettes. In a recent study, researchers at UCSF who analyzed data from the 2011 and 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that adolescents who used e-cigs were more likely to smoke cigarettes and less likely to quit smoking1. In another study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found rates of e-cig use among U.S. youth more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, with 10 percent of high school students admitting to having used e-cigs. Almost 76% of youth who had tried an e-cig had also tried a regular cigarette. Altogether, in 2012 more than 1.78 million middle and high school students nationwide had tried e-cigs2.
With the Federal Drug Administration opting not to ban flavored additives, advocates fear that flavored e-cigs will serve to entice a new generation of kids to become addicted to nicotine based products. Some public health advocates are calling flavored e-cigs the “Trojan horse” of nicotine addiction.
1. UCSF: E-Cigarettes: Gateway to Nicotine Addiction for U.S. Teens, Says UCSF Study. Available at https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2014/03/112316/e-cigarettes-gateway-nicotine-addiction-us-teens-says-ucsf-study
2. 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