The Talbot Parent Coalition, which is part of the Talbot Partnership, has received a grant from the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund of the Talbot County Health Department to educate parents and youth about the dangers from flavored e-cigarettes and flavored cigars and their growing use among teens.
“Just as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest National Youth Risk Behavior Survey tells us that cigarette smoking has decreased to below 16 percent among high school students, we are facing new threats to our youth’s health from flavored e-cigarettes and flavored cigars,” said Mary Kramer, Chairman of the Talbot Parent Coalition.”
Nationally, e-cigarette use more than doubled among middle school and high school students from 2011 to 2012. More than 75 percent of these users also smoke conventional cigarettes.
“Talbot County is reflective of what is going on in the nation as a whole,” says Kramer. “There is evidence in the County that wherever teenagers gather there will be some who are smoking flavored e-cigarettes or the flavored cigars. We hope to educate parents about this threat and have them join in the effort to understand by making use of the resources available through the Coalition.”
Kramer says the public education effort will be carried out through information on the organization’s Web site, Facebook page, and newsletter. Concerned parents should bookmark the Web site (parentscoalitionoftalbotpartnership.org), follow the TPC Facebook page Talbot Parents Coalition, and subscribe to the free e-newsletter for the most current, ongoing information. Text TPC + your email address to 16782493375 to subscribe to the e-newsletter.
Just as the federal government is in the process of setting rules that would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, a new study shows that TV ads for the products have increased dramatically during programs most likely to be watched by adolescents and young adults. According to the study by the journal Pediatrics, exposure to e-cigarette TV ads increased by 256 percent among adolescents ages 12 to 17 and by 321 percent among young adults ages 18 to 24 from 2011 to 2013.
The proliferation of and demand for e-cigarettes – which can be customized by the user using sweet and familiar flavors – has given rise to a new part of the retail industry. E-cigarettes have moved beyond convenience stores to specific businesses that specialize in selling these products.
Flavored cigars also are a looming threat because – like e-cigarettes – they can be altered with familiar candy-like flavors. According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, there is a disturbing trend in Maryland of underage youth smoking cigars – including cigarillos and little cigars – at the same rate as cigarettes.
A majority of youth e-cigarette and cigar smokers are using flavoring in these products. The sweet flavorings mask the harshness of the tobacco and make the products more enticing. These products are attractive, accessible, and affordable for young people. They come in fruit and candy flavors, in brightly colored wrapping, and they often cost less than an ice cream cone or candy bar.
Many young people wrongly believe that cigars are safer than cigarettes, but all cigars – including those that come in fruit and candy flavors – are addictive and cause cancer and heart disease – just like cigarettes. The jury may be out about the dangers of e-cigarettes, but indications are pointing to them being a gateway to cigarette usage – and that is not a healthy practice.