The e-Cigarette (e-cig) industry zealously claims to target only adult smokers and established smokers. But 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.
Appealing to an almost universal love for chocolates by children and adults alike, e-cigs and ejuices are available in a number of chocolate flavors including milk chocolate, coffee chocolate, chocolate mint, chocolate caramel, chocolate peanut butter, chocolate banana and chocolate strawberry. The sweet flavored additives in the vape juice help mask the bitterness of tobacco and the nicotine serves to addict teens.
In advertising the chocolate flavored e-cigs, the images are primarily of decadent pieces of chocolate. Some of the imagery in the advertisement is heavily borrowed from the food industry and some of the packages are designed to closely resemble popular chocolate brands such as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. In addition to these standard chocolate flavors, customers at online and retail “boutique” vape stores can mix any number of essences at a variety of nicotine strengths for a personalized vape. Some retail vape bars also have a “tasting bar” much like restaurants where consumers can try a variety of flavors.
Flavored cigarettes and flavored tobacco have long been held to be gateway products for children and teens. There is now a 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 opting 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.
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