Are electronic cigarettes going to encourage minors to smoke?
There are many articles in the media the moment highlighting concerns that electronic cigarettes are going to encourage minors to start smoking tobacco cigarettes. Many are using the fact that electronic cigarettes are available in a variety of sweet flavours such as bubblegum and fruit to argue they will cause minors to migrate to traditional cigarettes. Although electronic cigarettes are available in a wide variety of flavours, it seems unlikely that if someone were to start with a sweet flavoured electronic cigarette and then try a regular tobacco cigarette, they would make the switch to a harsh, bitter tasting cigarette. From the many conversations I've had with customers, they like to try the non tobacco flavours because, even as long terms smokers, they don't particularly like the taste of tobacco and surprisingly, many customers are now asking for nicotine free electronic cigarettes because they're finding the nicotine to be too harsh and just want to experience the feeling of having a cigarette. Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association stated "The American Lung Association is very concerned that e cigarettes, with flavours like cotton candy and bubblegum are being marketed to kids, which could result in a lifelong addiction to nicotine", however recent studies seemed to disagree with this statement. In a study of 1,300 college students conducted by Theodore Wagener, assistant professor of general and community paediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre, only 43 of the students had tried an electronic cigarette as their first nicotine product and of these, only 1 had started using nicotine products. The other 42 students reported they were not currently using any nicotine or tobacco products. Electronic cigarettes aren't targeted at minors, they are targeted at heavy smokers looking for a healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes. As electronic cigarettes are smoking related, most vendors will treat them the same as regular cigarettes and only supply them to over 18's. Online electronic cigarettes stores usually require age verification before purchasing electronic cigarettes. Another point to remember is that although electronic cigarettes save money in the long term for regular smokers, the initial outlay for a basic starter kit is around £15-20, much higher than the cost of a packet of cigarettes. The £3-4 for a pack of 10 tobacco cigarettes is much more attractive to the young occasional smoker supporting their addiction with pocket money or wages from a part time job. Electronic Cigarettes are fairly new to the UK market and I'm sure that very shortly we'll see more regulations put in place. There are many adult products with similar flavours to electronic cigarettes, these are to attract the adult users who enjoy the variety. Although many are concerned that electronic cigarettes will be a gateway to smoking, there is still insufficient evidence to support this. Litejoy Electronic Cigarettes Image courtesy of pat138241 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net