Cotton candy, cappuccino and Gummiberry flavors are favorites among young vapers, many of whom hardly hit middle school before they become addicted to the popular juices available in vaping devices.
Flavored e-cigarettes and vapes come in bright packaging, which often look eerily similar to kid-friendly snack packages. Flavors mask the harshness of tobacco, making it easier for kids to get hooked on nicotine. Regardless of how sweet their packaging appears to be, these products are deadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which reports vaping by high schoolers jumped from just 1.5 percent in 2011 to 20.8 percent in 2018.
Siblings are sharing the products with their younger brothers and sisters, while peers flock to convenience stores after school to feed their addictions.
There’s been a 48 percent increase in use among middle school students, according to data from the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey.
There’s no sugar coating the facts.
The numbers are alarming and there’s motivation behind the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ (MDHHS) interpretive statement regarding Emergency Rules for Protection of Youth from Nicotine Addiction. The emergency rules prohibit selling, giving or otherwise distributing flavored nicotine vapor products in Michigan.
The rules do not, however, prohibit mere possession of flavored nicotine vapor products in Michigan, nor do they prohibit returns of such products to a wholesaler or manufacturer, or transportation of such products to persons outside the state.
“Implementing these rules is a huge step in protecting our kids from the dangerous effects of vaping,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health of MDHHS. “Right now too many youth in Michigan have gotten hooked on nicotine because vaping companies are marketing flavors like cotton candy, apple juice and cappuccino. Prohibiting the sale of these flavored nicotine vaping products will help us protect our kids and our overall public health.”
In September Michigan became the first state in the nation to announce a ban on flavored nicotine vaping products. Since then the White House and the governors of New York and California have announced similar actions to protect kids from nicotine addiction.
Experts hope the ban will stem the rising tide of interest and addiction to these flavored products. Taking their favorite products away from youth might not prove as easy as taking candy from a baby, but it needs to be done before we raise a whole new generation of addicted adults.