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Hey kids, stop ruining e-cigarettes for the rest of us

Terrific.

Just as the fight over e-cigarette regulation has reached a boil, the U.S. Center for Disease Control had to go and publish a national survey, which shows that experimentation with e-cigs among middle school- and high school-age children more than doubled from 2011 to 2012.

The percentage of kids grades 6-12 who have ever used an e-cigarette jumped from 3.3 percent in 2011 to 6.8 percent last year, according to the CDC. That equates to about 1.78 million students who have at least tried vaping (what using an e-cig is called). Those students who have used e-cigs within 30 days prior to the survey increased from 1.1 percent to 2.1 percent overall. Middle schoolers who use e-cigs swelled from 0.6 percent to 1.1 percent, and the number of high school vapers rose to 10 percent, from 4.7 percent the year before.

Some even say their doctors recommend e-cigarettes, when other quitting techniques, like drugs or nicotine patches and gum, fail.

What the CDC study means, in political terms, is that people in power, like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, now have evidence to back up claims that e-cigs are a nefarious ploy to get kids hooked on nicotine. 

For adult vapers, all this means is that children are going to once again ruin something awesome.

E-cigarettes, for those of you who don’t yet know, are electronic devices that perfectly replace cigarettes. Packed with a heating mechanism, e-cigs turn a liquid, which often but not always includes nicotine, into an inhalable vapor, mimicking the feel of smoking without the tar-ridden smoke. Countless people have used them to quit tobacco cigarettes, and just as many swear that using e-cigs makes them feel far healthier. Some even say their doctors recommend them, when other quitting techniques, like drugs or nicotine patches and gum, fail. 

Critics say there is not yet enough science to conclude whether e-cigs are safer than “analog” cigarettes – and that’s perhaps true. The relatively few studies that exist are all over the place, though a growing consensus begins to paint a positive picture for vaping (pdf). E-cigarettes may in fact cause a whole garden of ailments to sprout up inside users, or not. Moreover, critics say the variety of delicious-sounding e-liquid flavors – there are thousands of them – will entice kids to start vaping – or, probably worse, smoking. It was for this same reason that fruity flavored tobacco cigarettes were banned in 2009.

Girl Smoking e-cigarette

If the anti-vaping crowd gets its way, e-liquid and pre-loaded e-cigs will no longer be available in a variety of fantastic flavors; only “tobacco” flavors will be allowed. Worse, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which plans to regulate e-cigarettes sometime soon, may ban the sale of e-cigs online, where the majority of vaping aficionados get their gear.

In short, the glory days of e-cigs will be over, regardless of whether they are actually bad for us, regardless of whether tight regulations will cause more people to stick with dangerous tobacco cigarettes. It’s a frustrating time to be a vaper – and, apparently, it’s all because of you dastardly kids.

So, kids, let me just say a few things to steer you away from a life of vaping, before you go and screw over everyone else. First, vaping is not cool. I mean, have you seen these things? They make you look like a crazy person who’s sucking on a robotic butt plug. (You don’t know what butt plugs are? Okay, well, let’s just say you wouldn’t want to put one in your mouth.) Second, adults don’t vape because they just feel like it; they vape because they’re idiots who started smoking and can’t figure out any other way to boot the nicotine monkey off their backs. Vaping is only great if you’re a former smoker. If you aren’t addicted to nicotine, there is absolutely no reason to vape. Finally, if I see any of you youngsters vaping, I’m going to steal your e-cigarette and throw it in a garbage disposal. So watch out.

If I see any of you youngsters vaping, I’m going to steal your e-cigarette and throw it in a garbage disposal. So watch out.

And if none of that convinces you to not use e-cigs, the very least you can do is, when the CDC calls asking about your habits, lie to them. Tell them, “Nope, I don’t even know what that e-thingamajig is you’re talking about, mister. Have a good day.” Then hang up the phone. Please, just do that for us.

As for you politicians and regulators, may I suggest this: Make it illegal to sell e-cigs to minors everywhere and call it a day. Zero adult vapers want kids getting hooked on e-cigarettes. But a whole lot of us like e-liquid flavors other than tobacco (which, by the way, never actually tastes anything like real tobacco), and taking that away from us for any reason is unjust and unfair here in the so-called Land of the Free. And the whole banning online sales thing, well, screw that – tax the suckers if you must, but don’t kill all the start-up businesses in the U.S., which have grown out of the world of e-cigs, with debilitating regulation.

At the end of the day, regardless of what rules are in place, kids will do all sorts of stupid crap – that’s what kids do. I did. You did. Everybody did. Making e-cigarettes more taboo through new laws may even increase the number of teens who want to jump on the vaping bandwagon, thanks to their lovable obstinate spirits.

Kids will be kids, after all. Let’s not let that incurable fact make it worse to be an adult.