Letters: Fooled by flavors, tempted by technology

Guest Author

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. Letters to the Editor reflect the view of a member of the campus community and are submitted to the publication for approval.

As a recent graduate of the School of Public Health at CSU, I want to thank the Rocky Mountain Collegian and reporter Blake O’Brien for publishing a detailed article about vaping. “The Crown JUUL on Campus: students’ love of e-cigarettes continues at CSU” described many myths that college students may believe about vaping and detailed some of the known health risks associated with using these products.

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During my studies at CSU, I completed an internship with the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Geneva, Switzerland. I worked with many countries who were a part of this international treaty with their reporting on tobacco control efforts. 

I now work on youth tobacco prevention in Larimer County and I have witnessed the rise and popularity of vaping among local youth. In Larimer County, vaping has surpassed all other forms of tobacco use among high school students and it is the second most tried substance behind alcohol.

Vaping has the potential to undermine the progress the field of public health has made in reducing death and disease from tobacco addiction. The current generation of youth and young adults in our country have grown-up knowing the health consequences of smoking cigarettes.

Policies like smoke-free places and limits on advertising have further solidified norms about use. However, electronic vapor products are a trendy way to entice a new generation to nicotine addiction with less regulation.

One of the students interviewed in the Collegian article described being deceived by the flavors, “Even though I know e-cigarettes are unhealthy from research and stuff, it just doesn’t feel as unhealthy because you’re tasting these good flavors”.

According to The Truth Initiative, the tobacco industry uses flavors as a strategy to introduce young people to nicotine. They do this by regularly introducing new and limited-edition flavors, emphasizing flavors in advertisements, and using colorful imagery on packaging.

These flavors help conceal some of the real consequences of using tobacco and nicotine products –including lifelong addiction and associated health problems. In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned cigarettes with characterizing flavors other than menthol (e.g., cherry, grape, chocolate), to help curb youth use.  

While young people are being tempted by the flavors, technology and innovation of vaping, health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued warnings about use. The electronic vapor product JUUL works with interchangeable pods and contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, making it highly addictive.

If you want to quit JUULs, cigarettes, or any other nicotine product and need support, visit tobaccofreeco.com/quit-tobacco/ or contact the CSU Health Network Tobacco Cessation Counseling at 970-491-6053.

I encourage college students to get the facts about vapor products and their risks. If you’ve never smoked, used other tobacco products or vaping products, please don’t start.

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Although some cigarette smokers may benefit from switching or quitting with e-cigarettes, they are NOT an approved quit method by the FDA, which ensures that the approved quit products are safe and effective and that their benefits outweigh any known associated risks.

Thanks you,

Christa Timmerman

CSU Masters of Public Health Alumni

Larimer County Department of Health and Environment

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