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Vaping: How Big Tobacco Got a New Generation Hooked on Nicotine

Vaping: How Big Tobacco Got a New Generation Hooked on Nicotine

Big Tobacco has always been in a somewhat ironic predicament, in that they must lure in new smokers to replace those who either quit smoking or die from their addiction. Today, the dangers of tobacco use are well known. Public health campaigns have attempted to eradicate cigarette smoking and overall tobacco use, and with great success. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown how successful their public health campaigns have been. While 42.4% of the Americans were smokers in 1965, an estimated 14% of American adults smoked cigarettes in 2017.

Cigarette smoking does not hold the same appeal it once did, partly because initiatives such as raising tobacco product prices, raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products, and public health campaigns emphasizing the dangers of smoking. Owing to the fact that tobacco cigarettes had lost much of their appeal and were not as “cool” as they once were, Big Tobacco looked for sneaky ways to manufacture and sell a whole new product to appeal to a younger demographic and get them hooked on nicotine. These ads were found in eye-catching social media marketing campaigns, as well as on television, bypassing a 1971 law that banned cigarette advertising on TV and radio.

How Vape Companies Lure in Young People

As interest in smoking declined sharply over the decades, Big Tobacco has had to find new ways to lure new smokers. Enter: the e-cigarette. Also called “vapes,” because the user inhales vapor rather than smoke, e-cigarette brands knowingly and cynically lure in teenagers, even going so far as to say their products pose no health risks or are, at least, healthier than smoking cigarettes. What they frequently and cleverly neglected to mention is the fact that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the main chemical that causes addiction in smokers.

The popularity of e-cigarettes has soared since JUUL labs introduced their vapes in 2015. These sleek, easily concealable e-cigarettes look like a USB flash drive and look nothing like a traditional tobacco cigarette. JUUL is the most popular among the e-cigarette market, and research from Stanford University called JUUL’s marketing efforts “patently youth-oriented.”

Nearly 11 million American adults use e-cigarettes, and more than half are under the age of 35. That’s about 1 in every 20 U.S. adults. About 2.4 million U.S. middle- and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2014.

JUUL has been found to target young people in the following ways:

  • Social media: In November 2018, there were thousands of JUUL ads between Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and “#juul” had 260,866 mentions. The models in these ads were 20-somethings in playful poses, wearing trendy clothing. The ads seem to promote sex appeal, relaxation, and pleasure.
  • Traditional advertisements: JUUL used VICE magazine, the self-proclaimed “#1 youth media company,” to launch its initial campaign, using a full-page ad on the inside front cover. They also announced a $10 million advertising campaign for TV and radio targeting current adult smokers to switch to JUUL e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking.
  • Flavorings: The e-cigarettes come in a variety of sweet and fruity flavors, bypassing laws that traditional cigarettes cannot be sold in any flavors other than menthol. In September 2019, these flavored e-cigarettes were banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Underplaying the health risks: JUUL blatantly courted cigarette smokers with the “Make the Switch” campaign, saying that e-cigarettes are safer because they contain no tobacco, tar, or ash. Although these are true, many “vapers” end up becoming dual users of e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes.

The Facts Are Plain: Vaping Is Not Safe

As more public health organizations such as the CDC and FDA are aware of the dangers of vaping, the hope is to curtail the epidemic of vaping among young people. The federal government is making new regulations for e-cigarettes to reduce the risks of deaths from nicotine addiction, which has been shown to be just as dangerous as it is in tobacco smoking.

Vaping is serious and its dangers cannot be overstated. If you are struggling with a nicotine addiction, contact us at Advance ER to learn more about how to kick the habit for good. Call today at (214) 494-8222 for an appointment.