E-cigarette firms ‘deliberately targeting’ Wicklow children with candyfloss and bubblegum flavours
E-cigarette companies are deliberately targeting Wicklow children and are not telling the truth about sweet flavours such as candyfloss and bubblegum are aimed only at adults.
The claim has been made by the Irish Cancer Society and Irish Heart Foundation after they published research amongst teenagers in the country.
“The fact that the only purpose of flavours like strawberry milkshake, cherry crush, chocolate mint and caramel is to lure a whole new generation of children into nicotine addiction has been endorsed resoundingly by the teenagers who took part in this research,” Tim Collins, CEO of the Irish Heart Foundation, said.
“The usefulness of e-cigarettes is as a harm reduction tool for long-term smokers who have been unable to quit using established methods.
“The idea that they need chocolate or bubblegum flavoured e-cigarettes to achieve that, or branding that features cartoon characters and bright attractive packaging has been exposed as preposterous by these young people.”
The focus group research by IPSOS MRBI among third and fourth year students showed that they do not believe that sweet e-cigarette flavours were designed for adults only.
The teenagers say that such flavours were strongly associated with snacks, treats and sweets that appeal to young people.
There was also unanimous rejection by teenagers of the idea that e-cigarette companies don’t design their advertising and packaging to attract children.
“It is crystal clear that long-term smokers represent just a small part of the target market of the big e-cigarette brands,” Averil Power, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society, said.
“The bigger objective – and the bigger profits – lie in causing children and young people who have never smoked to become addicted to nicotine.”
The latest US figures – where the majority of the market is made up of teen-friendly flavoured e-cigarettes – show that 27.5% of high school students are current users, up from 11.7% in 2017.
The most recent figures in Ireland are for 2015, before the spike experienced in the US, and show that 24.7% of 15-17 year olds have tried e-cigarettes, whilst 11% were current users, which is defined as use in the previous 30 days.