E-Cigarettes and Kids Do NOT Belong in the Same Sentence.Most of us in the e-cigarette industry are not only not marketing to kids; we also put warning notices on our sites and request a birthdate verification before selling e-cigarettes.
But kids are resourceful; if they want alcohol, cigarettes, and now e-cigarettes, they will find a way to obtain them. They’re also curious: most kids will try something at least once.
|Kids will experiment. But experimenting with cigarettes or e-cigs doesn't mean they're regular users.|
In fact, there are far more barriers to trying e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes.
However, it’s clear that we much reach kids as early as possible with a message about the dangers of smoking, because about 90 percent of all smokers begin smoking as teenagers.
E-Cigarette Trial Use Way Up; But How Many Are Really Using Them?
A new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that there has been a big increase between 2011 and 2012 in the numbers of middle and high school students who have used e-cigarettes.
First of all, we’re talking about pretty low percentages: 2.8 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes within the past 30 days, compared to 1.5 percent last year; 10 percent reported ever using an e-cigarette, up from 4.7 percent in 2011. Altogether, more than 1.78 million middle and high school students nationwide had tried e-cigarettes in 2012.
But before we push the panic button, let’s dig a little deeper into these statistics. I think what’s most interesting here is what’s missing from this study.
The CDC neglected to ask some key questions that would get to the heart of the issue of whether minors are really buying and using e-cigarettes on a regular basis. Just because they may have "tried" them doesn't mean they actually bought them and are using them regularly. They should have asked:
• Did you purchase an e-cigarette? If so, where? How much did you spend on it?
• Were you carded (did you have to show evidence of your age)?
• How often are you using an e-cigarette?
• Have you purchased refills (a.k.a. cartomizers) for it? If so, how many cartomizers you go through in a typical week?
My guess is that the numbers of kids who are actually buying and using e-cigarettes on a regular basis would be negligible.
Too Many Barriers to Regular E-Cigarette Use
That’s because there are several barriers for them to be regular e-cigarette users. To purchase the basic Vaping Vamps E-Cigarette Starter Kit (the “Try Me” Kit), they would need to have to:
1. Give a fake birthdate
2. Purchase using a credit card. Most kids I know don’t have one.
3. Spend $29.95 (on the “Try Me” e-cigarette starter kit, less a $5 off e-cigarette coupon). That’s a chunk out of their allowance!
4. Give a shipping address (usually home) and take the risk their parents don’t get the mail first.
I know LOTS of people have tried my e-cigarette because they were curious, so they would’ve had to answer Yes to the question of whether or not they had tried it. Many of them (none are kids, of course) are smokers who are considering making the switch. But most of the people who have tried my e-cigarette are not regular users, nor have they ever purchased one.
E-Cigarettes Deliver a Known Level of Nicotine
We’re all in agreement that smoking is bad for you, and that we do not want our kids to start smoking and struggle with an addiction that’s the leading cause of premature death in the U.S.
But the beauty of the e-cigarette is that it provides an alternative for the 20 percent of Americans who remain addicted to nicotine. It delivers nicotine in a form that eschews the 4,000 chemicals and 57 known carcinogens in cigarettes.
It’s a welcome alternative, considering the fact that every year, only about 7 percent of smokers successfully quit smoking long-term, despite the many, many people who try and the multitude of ways that have been available to them (nicotine patches, gums, hypnosis). The vast majority end up quitting cold turkey.
|About 20 percent of Vaping Vamps customers are buying e-cigarettes with no nicotine.|
That's because they're addicted to the habit, not to the nicotine.
That's what makes the e-cigarette such a great tool. The beauty of e-cigarettes is that you can determine which level of nicotine – anywhere from zero to the same level as a regular cigarette – you want. In fact, I sell a lot of e-cigarettes with no nicotine to women who are social vaping – who just want the sensation of vaping without any nicotine. At Vaping Vamps, about 20 percent of our sales are of e-cigarettes with no nicotine. Our best seller is the Deluxe E-Cigarette Starter Kit.
Meanwhile, traditional cigarettes are now delivering higher and higher levels of nicotine (increasing by 1.6% every year) and they now exceed occupational exposure limits.
Published scientific studies by the Action on Smoking and Health show that for the majority (60 percent), using an electronic cigarette reduces the desire to smoke and 55 percent say it helps them cut down on cigarettes.
And a recent study conducted in part by a Mayo Clinic research found that of 28 adult smokers—none of whom were interested in quitting—25 of them (about 90 percent), reduced their use of traditional cigarettes when they smoked e-cigarettes.
There will always be detractors to the e-cigarette. The landscape is just too political.
But creating scares that kids are using e-cigarettes simply clouds the many, many benefits they hold for the vast majority of people who use them.