This is by way of a progress report on vaping and the epidemic it seems to have spawned:
Seems that the percent of teens reporting recent use of e-cigarettes and vape pens appears to be falling — from 28% down to 20%. That’s the good news. However, it’s the result of a public information campaign around the adverse consequences of e-smoking. And it leaves us with far more young people who qualify as hardcore users — as measured by a minimum of 20 days use in a month. A brief summary:
It’s no mystery. Those who are less involved are the first to quit, experience less difficulty and have higher rates of success. Good for them. The remainder, however, face a much bigger challenge. They’re far more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms, relapse repeatedly, and require professional help.
Experts have long referred to commercially-manufactured cigarettes as a ‘crack pipe’ for nicotine. It’s not a bad description of vaping. Compared to a Marlboro, Newport, or Camel (the three most popular US brands), a vape pen easily carries more nicotine, with greater effect.
But what about adult smokers trying to quit? Don’t they need to vape? Some will, of course. But recent studies suggest the opposite is true. Studies: E-cigarettes won’t help smokers quit, but they may become addicted to vaping
Maybe for most smokers, electronic devices are really just a way to transfer the addiction to another method. That would still have harm reduction value. But it wouldn’t represent a path to abstinence, if that’s the goal. For most Americans, I suspect it still is.
Anyway, my theory is that we’re simply passing through yet another stage of a familiar pattern. Here’s the script:
- First, a new product appears that can be marketed and sold without interference, simply because the public isn’t aware of its hazards. In the case of electronic smoking, e-cigs were portrayed as a valuable tool in tobacco cessation. Given the number of adult smokers, demand was ready and waiting.
- There’s no real need for heavy promotion. Nicotine being strongly addictive guarantees plenty of return customers. And e-smoking will be restricted to adults, so no need to worry about the young’uns, right?
- Except some company breaks the mold. Not only selling to youth, but targeting them– in this case, with flavored products and cool-looking vape pens.
- Word of mouth will do the rest of the work. Soon enough customers will be asking for– heck, demanding— more product.
- Around this point the public will become aware of what’s happening. Probably not enough yet– real awareness takes time. Early warnings tend to be dismissed, or ignored.
- Other businesses take note and set out to copy success, the same way the appearance of the PC ignited the “clone wars”. Competition applies downward pressure to pricing and encourages even stronger products to attract experienced users who already have a tolerance.
- More money is needed to expand the business. Now come the super-giants from the tobacco industry, cash in hand, wanting a cut. The two business models, Old Tobacco and New Nicotine, begin to merge.
- Elements in government and the public are agitating for action. “Why didn’t anyone see this coming?” They did, of course. But they weren’t the right people, until now.
- An education and awareness campaign is launched. Restrictions are imposed, to suppress current use as well as the number of new users. Overall use begins to decline (that might take a while), leaving those who either don’t want to give up vaping, or perhaps couldn’t if they tried. Without considerable difficulty, at least. For them, it’ll be a genuine challenge.
That IMO is where we stand today, with a lot more left to do.
Good luck to us.