Letter to the Editor: Age-restriction needed on marketing of e-cigarettes

With rising in modernism and social media youth is exposed to a wide market of health-hazardous products that are presented in a manner that they look “cool” for them to use.

One of the examples of these products is vape/e-cigarettes. The Canadian government legalized e-cigarettes in 2018 and since then there has been a significant rise in the consumption of these products. Although they are less harmful compared to tobacco cigarettes as these liquids are just laced with tobacco instead of having tobacco leaf in them. But the way these products are being marketed is making teenagers fall towards the path that leads to smoking in the future.

According to the British Medical Journal teen vaping has been doubled since it was legalized in Canada. Along with that, a survey says that 40 per cent of teens between ages 16 to 19 years have tried vaping, while one in 10 says that they consume it weekly. According to me, apart from putting restrictions on the companies that sell vapes, there should be a legal age imposed to use any kind of cigarettes to control the explicit growth of young e-cigarette and tobacco cigarette users.

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The age restriction might help youth to make smarter decisions for themselves as they might not just reach for e-cigarettes because they are cool, and all their other classmates are doing so but instead could make better decisions for themselves. E-cigarettes are advertised in a manner that the teens are getting attracted to them. The companies are using social media influencers to get attention from these young citizens.

The flavoured cigarette packaging is advertised so that they look cool to use. The marketing restrictions are not enough to control the growth of e-cigarettes. These are advertised in the same manner as the tobacco cigarettes were advertised before years by the companies before they were restricted by the authorities. They have used the same playbook that the Big Tobacco companies have used for many years to appeal to young people, using colourful icons and using attractive good looking models, said Andy Tian, a researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who studies the impact of tobacco marketing.

The original intention of the e-cigarettes was to reduce the number of adults regularly consuming tobacco cigarettes daily. But due to the marketing campaigns used by the e-cigarette companies, the number of teenage users of these products is significantly growing while there is a negligible change in the reduction of adult smokers to turn to e-cigarettes instead of the tobacco ones.

Those of us in public health would like to see vaping become an off-ramp for adult smokers, said Robert Jackler, a surgeon and professor at Stanford University who studies tobacco marketing. Instead, it’s become a heavily traveled on-ramp for nicotine-naive teenagers. If there were age restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes there will be a significant change in the health of teens and reduction in consumption of these addictive products by teenagers.

Thus, is clear that the goal of e-cigarettes shifted from reducing adult smokers to increasing teen smokers. Although, e-cigarettes are said to be 95 per cent less harmful their average consumption has become more than tobacco cigarettes which makes it equally hazardous to health. Also, with increasing numbers of teenagers using it, it is becoming a threat to their health. The implication of age restriction, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to control this problem.

Juveriya Mombasawala

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.