Vaping has made headlines in the past few years as a tobacco cessation product and the safer alternative to smoking. Now that Vaping is more mainstream than it was years ago when it first became a hit, it’s being picked up by more than just smokers looking to quit. Vaping has become a culture and a lifestyle, which is fantastic for the vaping industry; sales are booming, and the word is spreading quickly. Not oblivious to this new culture are the ever curious and ever impressionable younger generations. Vaping has joined smoking at the cool kids table among teenagers in America, raising some very large concerns from the Canadian government regarding the introduction to vaping at such a young age.
It started with Juul and expanded from there. That same USB-looking device started popping up in classrooms, backpacks, and desk drawers no differently than cigarettes did a generation ago. Where cigarettes were less inviting with their distinct smell and acrid taste, e-liquids in their multitude of fun flavours offer a platform to kids who may have never even considered smoking in the first place but are curious to now what this cotton candy cloud really tastes like. After all, who doesn’t love the taste of candy without the added calories and tooth decay? As a result, we can see potential for the next generations version of the tobacco issue we saw in the 60’s and 70’s – introduction to a product with little information on the long term health effects at a critical developmental stage in their lifetime.
Arguments made against these issues state that at least these kids are not smoking cigarettes – of course it could always be worse. But this does not take away from the fact that while kids are developing and shaping their futures, they are falling victim to a severely addictive substance. Anyone who has suffered from addiction knows that when you are experiencing a craving there is little else to focus on until it is satisfied. This can be extremely difficult when a child is in a classroom trying to pay attention but can’t focus, can’t sit still, and can’t think properly because they are more concerned about getting their nicotine fix. It affects their grades and creates a dependence on a product at a time in their lives where addiction can develop a lot quicker than in adults.
Unfortunately the long term effects take a while to show themselves, and we won’t have more information for a while yet. This is why health Canada took the stance that lack of full scientific certainty is not to be used as a reason for postponing measures that prevent adverse effects on human health if those effects could be serious or irreversible. Thus, the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act evokes very strict rules regarding products that could be considered appealing to children. This includes the five restricted flavour categories: confectionery, desserts, energy drinks, soft drinks, and cannabis, as well as branding elements such as sensory attributes, characters, cartoons, animals, and other endorsements that would advertise the product as one that would increase your social status or make you happier.
So what can we do as an industry to protect the youth? Be diligent about checking ID when selling products in your stores. Understand that as frustrating as these new restrictions are for creating brands and personalizing your company, it’s doing a world of good for the health and future of the younger generations. Be a part of the education process, and don’t be afraid to talk about the pros AND the cons of vaping. And lastly, make sure the products you sell have the right compliance information on the label so that anyone purchasing them can be informed of the risks before they pick up a new habit. If we do this we can build a reputation as an industry that wants to help and inform, not just to make a buck and have the most popular brand on the block.
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