World No Tobacco Day: Novel Tobacco Products Pose a Danger to Young People

Despite initiatives around the world to reduce the use of tobacco products amongst young people, smoking is still prevalent in those aged 18 and under. On World No Tobacco Day May 31, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), is encouraging policy makers to take steps to prevent young people from taking up smoking.
World No Tobacco Day: Despite initiatives around the world to reduce the use of tobacco products amongst young people, smoking is still prevalent in those aged 18 and under. [Newswise]
World No Tobacco Day: Despite initiatives around the world to reduce the use of tobacco products amongst young people, smoking is still prevalent in those aged 18 and under. [Newswise]

World No Tobacco Day: Despite initiatives around the world to reduce the use of tobacco products amongst young people, smoking is still prevalent in those aged 18 and under. On World No Tobacco Day May 31, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), is encouraging policy makers to take steps to prevent young people from taking up smoking. The American Thoracic Society is a founding member of FIRS.

Evidence suggests that novel tobacco products have negative impacts on respiratory health. The emergence and growth of such products raises health concerns for individuals of any age, with some specific concerns identified for the younger population.

Increasing evidence shows that novel tobacco and nicotine products constitute gateways to nicotine addiction and the initiation of smoking among youth. A recent review of 189 studies on vaping and e-cigarettes concluded that non-smoking youths who use e-cigarettes have substantially higher likelihood of starting smoking. In addition, nicotine alternatives such as 6-methyl nicotine, may be more potent and addictive than nicotine itself.

“Electronic cigarettes containing chemical analogs of nicotine were introduced in the U.S. and international markets in 2023. A review of the known data suggests that nicotine analogs may be more toxic and more addictive than nicotine,” said Sven Jordt, PhD, a member of the ATS Tobacco Action Committee.

“Dr. Brian King, the director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products, stated at the ATS 2024 International Conference that current statutes do not allow the FDA to regulate electronic cigarettes containing nicotine analogs as tobacco products. FIRS and ATS call for FDA and international regulators to be authorized to regulate these products and assess their safety. Research is urgently needed to assess their risk to lung health.”

According to the World Health Organization, the tobacco industry has stated previously that younger adults are the only source of replacement smokers, noting that high school age children are the base of their business.

“Big Tobacco poses a significant threat to children and adolescents. Using bright colors and flavors to lure children in order to groom them into lifelong smoking is galling,” said Hasmeena Kathuria, MD, chair of the American Thoracic Society’s Tobacco Action Committee. “That flavors make smoking harder to quit is well documented. We need to continue to apply pressure to policymakers and government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration to ban flavored cigars sooner rather than later.”

The WHO also notes that the tobacco industry spends on average $23 million a day on marketing, and increasingly use digital and social media platforms to target younger markets. Social media influencers who reach and engage children and adolescents are employed as brand ambassadors and are offered financial incentives to promote tobacco products. One study showed that posts featuring 100 hashtags associated with tobacco companies had been viewed more than 25 billion times.

“With the evidence and dangers that tobacco products pose to our children clear to see, the marketing techniques used to promote such products must be called out and prevented,” added Dr. Filippidis.  “Appealing flavours, bright colours and advertisements, both direct and indirect, such as product placement in films and social media can be particularly appealing to young people, and they do play a significant role in steering adolescents towards nicotine addiction. They need to be prohibited.” Newswise/SP

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