As a young teen, I went to a birthday party. Me and my friends expecting a few cans of fizzy drink and some chocolate cake, what we got was the rebellious older sister, who was as cool as she was intimidating, handing us all our first cigarettes. Our tentative puffs and splutters followed by us slowly learning to inhale and getting the nod of approval. Smoking was what the cool kids did.
My smoking career never really got going. If I wanted to look cool, I’d spark up, but truth be known, it made me feel rubbish: I hated the smell, the way it made me feel and more to the point, the way it made me smell, By my early twenties, smoking was done, funnily the cool aspect of smoking was somewhat cringe-worthy.
Somewhere between my teens and now my children’s teen years, the message of dangers of smoking seem to have got through, along with it being banned in enclosed spaces, the general trend of smoking seems to be less appealing. But, there’s a new kid on the block …
Let’s talk about the vape: This is the new kid on the block, and do you know what? The kids think it is cool. Just like I thought that B&H were all those years ago. But it’s not, it’s just as bloody awful.
First off, the marketing is specifically targeting towards teenagers. For those not aware, the vape works by charging it on your USB point, then filling the pod with liquid, known as juice. You can get juice in all sorts of flavours from grapefruit, mango strawberry to cola, pink lemonade and bubblegum. Of course, all laced with nicotine, for that hit. Your kid graduates from buying bags of sweets to vape juice in one easy step.
The vapes all have cool names, my daughter’s choice this summer was the rather glamourous sounding ‘juul’. Added to that, they look a bit like a memory stick, so easy to diguise, shove in a pencil case and for parents to be none-the-wiser. Nictotine and its manufactors just found a way to get a whole new generation into addicition and potentially, a lifetime of then buying associated products to consume it. Brilliant.
Of course, on catching my daughter out, this was the first thing I pointed out: She was being manipulated by a clever marketing scheme to get her addicted to a drug. The very fact they’ve cornered the teenage market with sweet flavours actually makes me incandescent with rage.
Of course next up, the industry is relatively new. Standardisation and regulation are still catching up. The Juul pods can apparently hold as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes. Even one puff can give a nicotine hit that would affect even the most seasoned of smokers. Imagine that going into the lungs and brain of a still-developing teen? Indeed, the rates of hospitalisation for lung conditions caused by vaping is on the increase,
Of course, I pointed this all out to my teen, and the glamorous juul will now be sitting in a landfill somewhere as it went straight in the bin. Did I handle it right? Probably not perfectly. Is she doing anything different to what I did as a teen? Probably not. But, ultimately I am the parent, and have to point out the difference between right and wrong, especially when her health is at stake.
To my knowledge, vaping isn’t one her regular activities, but even if it is, i am hoping that she wizens up to the manipulation of the marketers, and more importantly, she begins to realise that it’s just crap. Let’s hope that’s before she hits her mid 20s.
What are your experiences on kids and vaping? Any wise words to help navigate through it?