Are vapes marketed towards children?

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Recent data has heightened concerns that e-cigarette companies are specifically targeting young people and children to maximise profits. The industry has drawn in this younger market through colourful packaging and large ranges of enticing flavours, promoting fears of a new generation addicted to nicotine.

A recent survey conducted by Action on Smoking and Health showed that this year, 20.5% of children had tried vaping, which is up almost 5% from 2022 and up by 6.6% from before COVID lockdowns.

Over the past three years, millions of illegal vapes have been confiscated by trading standards. Durham County Council recently seized over 300 illegal oversized vapes. Amongst the confiscated products was a pink, strawberry ice cream-flavoured vape, shaped like a milkshake bottle.

The juvenile design which imitates a children’s toy, appears to be an attempt by the brand Twister Bar to attract young children. This is despite the vape containing a tank size of 20ml, over 10 times the legal limit.

The government should be expected to act by placing regulations upon e-cigarette companies

There is great concern over these findings since the long-term consequences and side effects of e-cigarettes remain largely unknown. However, studies have already linked vaping with major health implications ranging from increased blood pressure to lung disease and cognitive development effects.

Despite these findings, vaping is considered by healthcare professionals to be considerably less damaging than smoking. Therefore, the e-cigarette’s functional role as a tool for those who wish to quit smoking eventually, remains important.

However, it is clear that the advertising and packaging for vapes are no longer primarily aimed at the smoker, but at the impressionable young person. Corporations seek to capitalise off the youth to expand their profitable market.

Hooking young people to nicotine also secures these companies longevity. Rachel De Souza, the UK’s children’s commissioner, has also highlighted that vaping has actually served as a gateway for many young children to smoking tobacco, “rather than a quitting strategy”.

The NHS has reported that an individual is two times more likely to quit smoking through vaping

There have been calls to the UK Government to tackle this issue. Suggestions have ranged from prioritising mandatory plain packaging for e-cigarettes, to requiring more visually obvious warning signs on the products. This would raise awareness of the health implications of long-term nicotine abuse.

However, there are fears that this type of action would simultaneously reduce the appeal of vaping to smokers who wish to quit. This would be undesirable since the NHS has reported that an individual is two times more likely to quit smoking through vaping, over any other nicotine replacement products.  

However, King’s College London and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) have conducted a study which may have provided insight into the most effective course of governmental action regarding this issue. The study has shown that eliminating the bold and bright coloured branding from e-cigarettes can potentially discourage children and young adults from purchasing them, whilst maintaining their appeal to adults.

The study was conducted amongst roughly 2,500 individuals between 11 and 18 and around 12,000 adults. Each group was asked whether they believed their peers would be less interested in vaping if they were marketed in plain green or white packaging. The general consensus was that teenagers were more inclined to believe that this type of measure would reduce the demand for vapes, whereas adults saw no such reduction in interest.

As a young person, vape culture amongst peers is blatant and undeniable

Therefore, by partnering results from this and similar studies, with the rising numbers of children and young adults vaping, the government should be expected to act by placing regulations upon e-cigarette companies.

Promisingly, Rishi Sunak expressed great concern earlier this year over the targeting of children and young people by vape companies, ensuring this issue is under governmental review. As a young person, vape culture amongst peers is blatant and undeniable. The epidemic therefore, should be of paramount importance for governmental officials concerned for the health and welfare of the youngest members of society.

Image: eliquidsuk via Unsplash

One thought on “Are vapes marketed towards children?

  • Considering that vaping increases the likelihood of quitting smoking by a factor of two compared to other nicotine replacement therapies, this is obviously not desired (NHS, 2019). basketball stars

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