World No Tobacco Day  

By Sophia Artis, Program Coordinator, Tobacco Prevention and Treatment Program 

World No Tobacco Day, observed every year on May 31st, is devoted to informing the public about the dangers of commercial tobacco use. This year, the World Health Organization has dedicated the day to protecting children from the tobacco industry. Young people and their guardians should be aware of the following facts: 

  • Tobacco is the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended by its manufacturers, kills a large proportion of its consumers.  
  • The tobacco industry cannot survive without attracting young people to its products. Youth tobacco users become “replacement consumers,” taking the place of older users who have died, often from tobacco-related diseases. 
  • When the public became aware of the harm of cigarettes, youth smoking rates fell. In response, Big Tobacco shifted to marketing e-cigarettes or vapes towards youth. The industry claimed, without scientific substantiation, that e-cigarettes were less harmful than cigarettes and produced e-cigarettes in sweet flavors modeled on candy and fruit. While adults may enjoy these sweet flavors, research has found that flavors attract youth who have never used tobacco products and would otherwise not be interested. 
  • Despite the industry’s claims, vaping is far from harmless. E-cigarette use can expose users to known carcinogens and cause pulmonary, cardiovascular, and dental problems. Preliminary research has found that nicotine itself can have long-lasting effects on the adolescent brain, including disrupting the brain circuitry that controls mood, attention, learning, memory, and impulse control. Research also suggests that individuals who start consuming nicotine at an early age are more likely to develop severe addiction. 
  • The majority of vapes sold in the U.S. are done so illegally. To avoid regulation by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, manufacturers of popular products, like Puff Bars, smuggle their products into the states. As a result, the contents of most e-cigarettes sold are unregulated.  

Recovering from nicotine addiction is possible. Youth 13 years and older can receive free counseling from California’s tobacco helpline, Kick It California