(NAPSI)—After a year and a half of remote learning and social distancing, kids are back to socializing after school and between classes. A return to school also means kids are once again exposed to the dangers of vaping and flavored tobacco products, which could worsen with a return to in-person learning.
The tobacco industry knows flavored tobacco is highly addictive—and that’s why it targets kids. Among high school kids in California, 96% of teens who vape use flavored products. By giving vapes and smokeless tobacco products such kid-friendly flavors as Blue Razz, Pegasus Milk, and Menthol Freeze, the tobacco industry falsely markets them as less harmful than cigarettes.
Flavors might mask the harsh taste of tobacco but they don’t hide the toxic chemicals that can damage lungs and the nicotine that is poisonous to developing brains.
Nicotine addiction is especially dangerous for kids. It rewires the brain to crave more of it, creating nicotine withdrawal symptoms including headaches, mood swings and the inability to concentrate. Nicotine even changes the way connections form in the brain and can also interfere with attention and learning.
Big Tobacco understands these harms, yet it still uses flavored products to target youth to turn them into lifetime addicts. Many vape brands now use a highly concentrated form of nicotine called nicotine salts that’s engineered for vaping. These ‘salts’ let higher concentrations be inhaled more easily, and absorbed more quickly, than regular nicotine—addicting kids even faster.
The tobacco industry also experiments with new ways to push nicotine onto youth. In rural communities, it markets smokeless tobacco called chew, and snus—a new product that’s a smokeless tobacco pouch. More than 80% of youth ages 12 to 17 who have ever used snus indicated that the first type of the product they used was flavored.
The industry markets these products, particularly to young men, by showcasing images of rugged cowboys, hunters, and race-car drivers—presenting tobacco use as a rite of passage. This specific targeting may explain why students at rural and town schools have more than double the rates of smokeless tobacco use as those in city or suburban schools.
The Good News
The rate of teens in California who want to quit vaping doubled from 2018 to 2020, and the majority of California teens believe their close friends view vape use negatively. Education about the harms of flavored tobacco products is working, but with kids going back to in-person learning, it is crucial to continue making progress.
Kids need support to quit the addictive and deadly products pushed on them by the tobacco industry. Parents and families who want further facts about the dangers of flavored tobacco use or to find quit resources, can visit www.flavorshookkids.org. Californians looking to quit can text “I Can Quit” to 66819 or visit www.NoVapes.org to join the free quit program.