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Addicting Kids

The tobacco industry is addicting our kids

Published Apr 15, 2022
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The tobacco industry’s replacement customers can’t legally buy their products but that hasn’t stopped the billion-dollar, Big Tobacco marketing machine from targeting kids with social media ads, fun flavors, and products that appear less harmful than their parent’s cigarettes.1

The tobacco industry has doubled down on addicting young people as their business model – harming kids’ health as they experiment with new products and flavors to see what sticks. Flavors such as menthol, Blue Razz, Banana Ice, and Arctic Cool Mint were created by the industry to mask the harsh taste of tobacco, which kids don’t like, making tobacco products easier to start using and even harder to quit.2 3 Big Tobacco depends on young people using their products to make a profit and keep them in business.4 And flavored vapes are kids’ product of choice.5 Teens who vape are 3x more likely to become daily cigarette smokers.6 

Most California high school students who use tobacco use vapes.7 Vaping allows higher concentrations of nicotine to be inhaled and absorbed more easily than other tobacco products like cigarettes.8 Nicotine – which is as addictive as heroin9– is poison for the developing brain and rewires the brain to crave more of it.10 This creates nicotine withdrawal symptoms like headaches, restlessness, and the inability to concentrate.11 12 13 We know that nicotine can affect learning14 and increase anxiety,15 mood swings,16 and irritability.17 

It’s not all about vapes though. Other tobacco products are just as appealing for their wide array of flavors and low-cost ease of purchasing, such as smokeless tobacco like snus or chew, and little cigars and cigarillos. Unfortunately, these are also harmful to the developing brain and body because they also contain nicotine.

This is the moment to break the cycle of addiction. We have the power to create a better, tobacco-free future in California and that starts with keeping Big Tobacco from targeting our kids for disease and death.

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Hold the industry accountable

California has already protected people from other harmful products, and it's time to hold the tobacco industry to the same standards.