According to Kaiser Health News, when e-cigarettes arrived on the market, just 1.5% of teens said they had vaped. By 2018, that number had risen to more than 20%. In North Dakota, more than 60% of all high school seniors say they’ve tried vaping. Nearly one-third used e-cigarettes within the past 30 days.
Kaiser reports that vaping manufacturers take advantage of the regulatory gray area surrounding e-cigarettes, downplaying the need for warnings about certain dangers:
- The flavor industry expressed concern that the flavors used in e-cigarettes were intended for ingestion, with no testing for inhalation.
- Tests results indicate that inhaling the chemical commonly behind cinnamon flavoring may be linked to lung problems.
Even though selling e-cigarettes to minors is illegal, the FDA identified concerns about flavors that may be attractive to youth. These include mango, cotton candy, bubble gum and cookies and milk.
The FDA never tested or regulated many of the liquid pods used in e-cigarettes. Meanwhile, vaping grew into a multi-billion-dollar market. According to Kaiser Health News, vaping was worth $4.1 billion in 2016 and was estimated to become a $48 billion market by 2023.
Safer than smoking?
For years, manufacturers promoted vaping as a safer and healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes. Yet, as thousands of illnesses and dozens of deaths develop across the nation, alleged to be caused by vaping, the safety of vaping is being thrown into question. Recall that Big Tobacco promoted cigarettes as healthy a half-century ago. Flavors and cartoon characters were promoted to attract younger clientele to cigarettes. Ultimately, Big Tobacco was sued by every state to recover the increase in health care costs required of states for their citizens. Thousands of smokers also successfully sued Big Tobacco for failing to warn them of the dangers and addictive nature of cigarette smoking. Vaping appears to be following a similar path towards litigation.