E-cigarette makers must stop false advertising

E-cigarette makers must stop false advertising

Vaping, “juuling,” smoking an e-cigarette – whatever you choose to call it, young people are doing it. E-cigarettes as an industry were worth $224 million in sales in one year, according to Business Insider. 

From the classroom to the library to The Strip, I see them everywhere. The idea of these products being "a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes with all the same head-rushing inducing nicotine pleasure,” as the company JUUL claims, is ironic. The only safe alternative to smoking cigarettes is to not smoke them at all.

Yet while they’re obviously not good for you, there are misconceptions about the effects they do have on your health. So just how bad are JUULs for your health?

A JUUL is simply the brand name of a popular e-cigarette. But regardless of what type people choose to smoke, the brand name has molded into a verb that is becoming a universal term for this activity of vaping. The device’s creator, Pax Labs, describes it as an “intensely satisfying closed-system vapor experience.” They even include a statement that no tobacco or e-liquid product will be completely safe, and they “encourage” consumers to do their own research and basically determine themselves how harmful it could personally be for them. 

But the most interesting part of information they provided was this:

“If you do not currently use nicotine-containing products, we recommend that you do not start. However, if you are an adult smoker who has been looking for an e-vapor alternative that can satisfy like a cigarette, then JUUL may be a good choice for you.”

Allow me to translate: If you have never smoked a cigarette, stay away. If you are addicted to cigarettes, this is an alternative that isn’t as horrible for your lungs as a true cigarette is.

Their marketing and advertising is leading people to believe that since they’re not smoking a real cigarette, there is nothing harmful. This is simply wrong, and the reality is in the finest of prints. 

While they aren’t technically marketing that it’s good for you, they also aren’t marketing very heavily that, once again, it’s simply not benefiting your health in any way. 

While this may seem painfully obvious to some, there truly is a demographic that completely misses the point. The reality is, there's a lot of people who are just following the trend. 

The major component of these products is nicotine, which is the component that leads to the addictive behavior. There is .7 mL of nicotine in each pod, which is the equivalent to a pack of cigarettes. So what is the advantage of vaping? It’s a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. And the benefit of vaping? Well, there is none. 

The JUUL product also states that they believe adult smokers who are interested in switching over should be offered high-quality alternatives that satisfy them because “satisfaction is a key component to supporting their switch to vapor.” This is the equivalent to saying if you’re a liquor-drinking alcoholic, you should maybe switch to beer instead.

If you are like myself and have never smoked a real cigarette but have seen the addictive behaviors of “juuling” either around you or in yourself, you may be troubled that you have never come to this realization. While I certainly don’t look down on anyone who smokes e-cigarettes, I do look down on and am disappointed with the misleading marketing that these companies have used to lead consumers, some of these consumers being young kids, to false conclusions about the safety of their product. 

Washington Square News, the student newspaper of New York University, recently reported a study NYU conducted that concludes vaping increases risk of cancer and heart disease. This is the kind of publicity the product has been missing.

Whether you choose to partake in this trend, I encourage everyone to read in between the lines and be smarter than all the fine print right under our noses.   

Annie Milbourn is a junior majoring in journalism. Her column runs biweekly.

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