Are they markers or vapes? Hard to say: the latest generation of disposable e-cigarettes is designed in such a way that they hardly stand out in the pencil case or book bag. This makes it easy for school-aged youth to hide them from parents and teachers. Come On Against Cancer responds. “A 50-year-old man who wants to quit smoking is not going to choose a purple e-cigarette with a bubblegum flavor. It is clearly aimed at young people.”
The popularity of electronic cigarettes has been on the rise for some time now. Thanks in part to their accessible flavours: mango, cola, strawberry ice cream, fuji apple nectarine, coconut melon, kiwi passion fruit, even Italian sorbet ice cream with raspberry flavor – these are just a few of the wide range of different aromas. So something for everyone.Check mr-joy.com e liquid store for more information. Although it is better to say something for every teenager, because electronic cigarettes are doing particularly well with that target group, and large companies are cleverly responding to this.
“Because your brain is not yet fully grown as a teenager, the reward effects in your brain are much stronger,” begins cancer prevention expert Veerle Maes of Kom Op Tegen Kanker. “The younger you start using nicotine, the more prone you are to addictions. We want to do everything we can to protect young people against this.” The ubiquity of e-cigarettes on Instagram and TikTok doesn’t make that mission any easier. In teen drama ‘Euphoria’, a character was even called ‘Vape Girl’ because she is permanently in the picture with the smoking accessory.
Large companies are also responding to the increasing popularity among young people. When you look at the latest generation of vapes, nothing reminds you of the outdated image of the classic cigarette. In 2022, e-cigarettes are colorful, compact and can best be compared to pens or markers. As a result, they not only look nice, but are also easy to hide from unsuspecting parents or teachers.
You can find the colorful vapes in tobacconists and night shops, supermarkets, gas stations, and specialized web shops, and because they are disposable vapes, they often cost less than six euros. It couldn’t be more accessible. “In principle, it is forbidden to sell them to young people under the age of eighteen. But just like with real cigarettes, we see it happening anyway. We know that the neutral packaging of cigarettes makes them less attractive to young people. So it would be good to ban those bright colors and also impose restrictions on flavours. A 50-year-old man who wants to quit smoking won’t choose a purple e-cigarette with a bubblegum flavor. It is clearly aimed at young people. We hope that legislation will soon prohibit this strategy.”
There are no figures of how many young people vape in Belgium. “The most recent figures are from 2018. Because this is a whole new generation of products, we have no idea how many people are using them. We have the impression that more and more young people are using e-cigarettes, but we can’t prove that at the moment.”
Because e-cigarettes are so new, we don’t yet know the long-term effects, says Maes. “But it is certainly not a healthy product. Our position is: if you are not a smoker, the e-cigarette in all its forms is to be avoided. It can possibly be used by smokers as an aid to quitting, but for non-smokers it is a no-go. And especially for young people.”