One of my favorite American sayings is, “Putting lipstick on a pig,” and there are countless examples of this expression in real life. Nonetheless, one in particular caught my attention last weekend. The outcry of the Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) industry–AKA manufactures of the e-cigarettes–are finally facing a tax measure that is on the ballot this upcoming November 8th election in California.
The ENDS industry is fighting nail and tooth against Proposition 56, which seeks not only to increase the existing cigarette tax, but also to begin taxing the e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine dispensers just like tobacco. Why now? Because recent studies have shown an alarming increase in the use of these devices by middle and high-school kids.
- More than 3 million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2015, up from an estimated 2.46 million in 2014.
- During 2011-2015, e-cigarette use rose from 1.5 percent to 16.0 percent among high school students and from 0.6 percent to 5.3 percent among middle school students.
This past May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration extended its regulatory authority to the e-cigarettes including them in the tobacco products category and restricting the sale to minors nationwide. However, there are loopholes for kids to purchase online or via mall kiosks and in the end, once teens find something they like, they will find a way to get it.
I don’t know the intentions of the creators of these vapor devices. Perhaps they were honestly trying to find an alternative for smokers who had failed to quit their cigarettes addiction. The problem is that, by “putting lipstick on a pig” they turned a nasty habit into a tasty one, thanks to the variety of candy flavors that youngsters seem to enjoy.
During college I smoked regularly on campus and at parties. I remember smoking like a chimney specially on finals nights while drinking gallons of coffee to stay awake. Although, as stimulating as smoking could feel, I never really liked the taste or the smell. I hated smelling like a cigarette butt in the morning.
This is exactly what the e-cigarettes eliminated. Mothers and fathers can no longer detected the stink of cigarettes on their children as soon as they walk through the door. Nowadays teenagers come home smelling like peaches and creme, when in reality they have been in a cloud of smoke.
Even though research regarding the long term effects of the use of ENDS is still incipient, there is an undeniable fact about vaporizers and e-cigarettes contradicting their “harmless” labels: They all contain nicotine and this substance creates addiction. Period.
Despite the chemical factor and their high prices–some starter kits can run up to $200–my concern is the social acceptance. Because it doesn’t stink, I have seen more people smoking e-cigarettes in public settings and more parents vaporizing in front of their young children.
I don’t know about their kids, but mine mirrors everything my husband and I say or do. Therefore, I’m absolutely positive that, if he saw me huffing and puffing like a choo-choo train, he would think it is OK to emulate the same behavior.
E-cigarettes and hookahs are cool in the eyes of teens, but just like many other things that provide pleasure, they have a hidden risk. I understand I can’t protect my child from everything, but I sure can mitigate some of the exposure. If I won’t buy him a muscle car when he turns 16, I can’t allow him to smoke an e-cigarette just because it smells like bubble gum.
In conclusion, lipstick or no lipstick, the “pig” of the electronic nicotine delivery systems stinks. At least the FDA finally leveled the field and situated the e-cigarettes in the same tobacco category. I just hope the smoke curtain created by the ENDS industry doesn’t cloud the legislators judgement to revoke the restrictions already put in place.
Thanks for reading and sharing.
This column was sponsored by Zellner Insurance Agency. Many things in life don’t have insurance. For everything else call Zellner (888) 208-8119