Editorial

E-cigarettes are This Generation’s Cigarettes

Since the late 1950s, FDA, physicians, legislators and parents have been fighting against tobacco companies. In 1964, the first report to prove the link between smoking and lung cancer was published. In 1971, advertising for cigarettes were prohibited from television and radio. States started making laws for designated smoking areas and smoke free businesses.

In 2006, Judge Kessler released her final ruling in the U.S. Department of Justice’s federal suit against the tobacco companies. She found that the tobacco industry had lied for 50 years and deceived the American public on health issues and marketing to children. In 2010, cigarette companies are prohibited from using “light,” “low” and other misleading health descriptors.

Because of those who fought against tobacco companies, people today are more educated on the harmful effects of smoking and nicotine addiction, but today’s generation is facing the same battle just with a new look.

E-cigarettes are this generation’s cigarettes. No, e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, but it does contain the most dangerous part: nicotine. In a single JUUL pod, one of the most popular e-cigarettes brands, there is 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine.

E-cigarettes have become the tobacco companies’ loophole. The laws that limit tobacco companies don’t apply to e-cigarettes, so e-cigarette companies are able to have commercials on the radio and tv, claim their product is beneficial to customer health and market candy-like flavors to children.

The big three tobacco companies—Lorillard, Reynolds American, and Altria Group—all have their own e-cigarette brands, so it’s not surprising that e-cigarettes are being marketed and advertised much the way regular cigarettes used to be.

The JUUL brand started a new campaign called “make the switch” where they market toward smokers who have been wanting to quit smoking cigarettes. The commercial argues switching from a cancer stick to an electronic cancer stick is almost equivalent to quitting smoking all together, but it’s not. The only positive of switching to e-cigarettes is it doesn’t have the formaldehyde or rat poison that cigarettes have, but that doesn’t mean e-cigarettes don’t have their own harmful chemicals.

A 2018 study found five cancer-causing toxins in the urine of 16-year-olds who inhaled e-cigarette vapor. The FDA found that inhalation of chemicals found in most flavored e-cigarettes are associated with respiratory disease. One chemical they found is diacetyl, a chemical often added to food for a buttery taste and is harmless when consumed that way, but when the chemical is heated up and inhaled, it can cause the respiratory disease called bronchiolitis obliterans also known as “popcorn lung.”

JUUL’s commercials also claim their product will help its users recover from their addiction to nicotine, yet they provide no scientific evidence to support that. If a company makes a claim that its product can be used to treat a disease or addiction, like nicotine addiction, it must provide studies to the FDA showing that its product is safe and effective for that use so that the FDA can approve or disapprove of the product. JUUL has failed to do that. The FDA has not approved e-cigarettes for use in quitting smoking.

Few long-term studies have been conducted to test if e-cigarettes help people quit smoking, but a study done in four countries found that e-cigarette users were no more likely to quit than regular smokers even though 85 percent of them said they were using them to quit.

The money hungry tobacco companies that earlier generations fought have now evolved into a new product, but lucky for us, they are too stupid to update their tricks. We know the signs and we know the facts. Don’t allow major corporations to con you out of your life and money.

Gina Castro is a junior at the University of West Florida where she is double majoring in English Literature and Journalism. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of The Argonautica and an editorial intern for Ballinger Publishing. When she's not researching new stories to write articles about, she is watching knitting tutorials or obsessing over Toni Morrison.

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