Letter: Support measure to keep kids from vaping

Support measure to keep kids from vaping

Let me start with two conflicting truths: 1. It is illegal to sell e-cigarettes (aka vaping) to minors in the State of Alaska. 2. There is no penalty for selling e-cigarettes to minors. In 2017 compliance checks, e-cigarettes were sold to minors at vape shops about 30 percent of the time, illegally, but without consequence. Alaska’s Senate Bill 15 (SB15) will provide penalties for those who sell e-cigarettes to minors, just as the law applies to selling cigarettes to minors. It is a good start.

As you’ve probably noticed, tobacco giants like Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds are now enthusiastically promoting e-cigarettes as a way to “help people” (my quotes) cut back and/or quit smoking. Forgive my cynicism, but I’m suggesting that Big Tobacco has noticed that Alaskans have stopped smoking at alarming rates (alarming to Big Tobacco) and is now marketing “kiddie flavors” and “education” that suggests that vaping is safer than smoking. This phony advertising campaign is both suggesting e-cigarettes are a good alternative, and that they are cool. It is a great strategy for grooming the next generation. The Tobacco Industry spends nearly 18 million dollars a year marketing in our state — with much of it aimed at creating addicts of our children. I don’t believe the good health of the next generations is Big Tobacco’s motivation.

I’m very happy for you if you are an adult and have used vaping to cut back on your tobacco use or to quit. For you, as adults, this could be a helpful exit strategy. For our kids, it a blatant attempt to hook them on nicotine for life. It’s a Welcome sign. Those of you who have quit are likely to have experienced that it’s often the ritual part of cigarettes that is the hardest to kick — holding it between your fingers, blowing out the cloud of smoke, etc. It isn’t just the 200 ingredients that you were hooked on with tobacco, but the delivery method as well.

Attention youth! Check out the trendy “looks like a flash drive” method of ingesting tobacco (or pot or meth). You can fool your parents and your teachers. You can ingest the amount of nicotine in an entire pack of cigarettes in just a few puffs. Flavors include glazed donuts and watermelon, so it’s likely they are not intended for 55-year-old men who are trying to quit tobacco.

Big Tobacco wants and needs our kids. “They say “it’s safer.” Trust them? Remember the time when cigarettes were good for you? And then when they weren’t bad for you? Then (and now) they maim and kill people through lung cancer and heart disease and have wreaked economic havoc on our state and nation.

There is one thing you can do right now. Support Senate Bill 15 which has already passed the Senate and will have its first hearing in the House this week. YOU are needed! Contact your house member ASAP. Together, we can do this!

Susan Smalley,