What is it about cigarettes that young people still think is somehow cool?
This week the government of B.C. brought legislation into effect to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to youth, just as traditional tobacco cigarettes are banned.
The stated goal: “The Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act is designed to protect youth from the unknown effects of e-cigarette vapour and from becoming addicted to nicotine, which is why it treats e-cigarette use exactly the same as tobacco, with the same bans and restrictions.”
So now e-cigarettes can only be sold to people 19 years old and above.
You also can’t use e-cigarettes in vehicles where there are kids under the age of 16, on school grounds, and in public buildings and workplaces.
The need for these new laws comes because, just like cigarettes before them, so many youth are trying them at the very least.
According to B.C.’s Ministry of Health one in five Canadian youth have tried e-cigarettes.
Why is perhaps an unanswerable question. Especially when it seems the majority of youth who try vaping aren’t actually trying the e-cigarettes that have nicotine in them, so they lack the chemically addictive reaction.
That doesn’t make e-cigarettes harmless, however. E-cigarettes still release something into the lungs of the people that use them, and the long-term safety of the chemical formulas used to create various ‘flavours’ are, to date, unknown.
But what is it about standing or sitting around with a tube held between your fingers and sucking emissions into your lungs that’s the big selling point?
Vaping or smoking, it’s exactly the same behaviour in this regard.
What is still seen as so cool about this action that children and teens are lining up to try it?
For some, they see their parents or other adults engaging in smoking, though the number of smokers in B.C. is only about 15.3 per cent, according to government stats. So mimicry certainly doesn’t account for all of the kids trying it out.
Celebrities have long stopped being poster children for smoking.
Is it just teenage rebellion? A natural draw towards the taboo?
Whatever it is, the vaping statistics show us unequivocally that as a society we have so far failed to get at the root of what makes this attractive for each new generation eager to try out new experiences.
Until we do, history tells us that vaping won’t vanish.