The e-Cigarette (e-cig) industry zealously claims to target only adults and established smokers. As much as e-cig companies deny it, the plethora of vape juices in alcoholic or sweetened flavors and sugary names serve to make these products 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 e-cigs.
E-cigs and ejuice are available in a number of fruit flavors including banana, watermelon, pineapple, and grape. In addition to these flavors, many ejuices are available in exotic flavors such as passion fruit, mango and lychee as well as in a cocktail of fruit flavors. The fruit flavored additives in the vape juice help mask the bitterness of tobacco and the nicotine serves to addict teens. Advertisements for fruit flavored e-cigs and ejuices include bright backgrounds that seek to draw all the attention to the fruits. Images of fruits slicing through water much helps convey a sense of freshness and purity to the product. If not for the brand name or the image of ejuice bottle by the side of the fruit, it would be easy to mistake many of the ads under this theme for ads by the food industry.
Flavored cigarettes and flavored tobacco have long been held to be 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. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 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-cigs1.
With the Federal Drug Administration proposing not to ban flavors in e-cigs, 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 and vape juices the “Trojan horse” of nicotine addiction.
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-e-cigarette-use.html