The Teen e-Cigarette Access Problem

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The following is a guest post.  All opinions (and links) are those of the author.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net / goldy
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net / goldy

E-Cigarettes have gained quite a bit of media attention lately. Plenty of former smokers praise these devices for giving them a way to quit traditional tobacco. However, plenty of people have embraced the vaping trend for other reasons as well. While adults can make their own choices, it’s important that the growing subculture doesn’t infiltrate the teen market. Electronic cigarettes and personal vaporizers are strictly for adults, and teen access must be restricted.

Why Teens May Be Interested in E-Cigs

Like anything else, when one popular child does something, the others want to join. Just like alcohol or traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes give teens a way to prove their maturity to their peers. Breaking rules or the law is often an impressive feat among teenagers, so vaping may be seen as an outsider’s hobby. The wide variety of unique flavors can also be a draw for teens who may not be attracted to traditional tobacco cigarettes.

 

A Rapidly Growing Subculture

Over the past few years, vaping has become much more than a personal way to satiate nicotine cravings. There are many vapers who identify by their habit/hobby, and it’s often done in groups. There are even vape shops where vaping enthusiasts can hang out and sample e-liquids. While there is certainly nothing wrong with this growing interest in vaping, it’s critical that adults don’t make these gatherings accessible or appealing to underage teens.

What Can Be Done?

It’s essential that retailers that selling vaping equipment and accessories remain vigilant when it comes to selling e-cigarette products. It’s impossible to prevent teenagers from being interested in something, but it is possible to reduce their ability to get their hands on the product. Just because e-cigarettes are a better alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes doesn’t mean that we should look the other way.

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The Good News

Research suggests that teens that experiment with vaping rarely, if ever, switch over to smoking. While traditional tobacco cigarettes may lead to vaping, there is no evidence to suggest that an e-cigarette starter kit is going to make a teen want to pick up the more harmful analog version. Other research suggests that e-cigarette use is widely concentrated to former or current smokers, and most teens aren’t picking up e-cigarettes just to see what they’re all about.

Misinformation from Big Tobacco

Big tobacco companies have a lot to lose when it comes to e-cigarettes. A great deal of misinformation has been spread to the general public, causing much more alarm than is necessary. While it is absolutely critical that e-cigarettes are kept away from teens, there is not nearly as much of an epidemic happening that many biased sources would have you believe. Take what you read with a grain of salt, and try to get your information from reputable sources only.

Prevent Teen E-Cigarette Use

It’s up to each and every one of us to do our part to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of teens. Don’t purchase vaping products for underage teens, and don’t brush it off if your child is caught vaping. Legitimate companies like evcigarettes don’t sell to teens, so support the e-cigarette shops that recognize the importance of preventing underage vaping.