California health department releases ads against e-cigarettes

THE California Department of Public Health released two television ads on Monday, March 23 to inform the public of risks associated with e-cigarettes.

“California has been a world leader in tobacco use prevention and cessation since 1990, with one of the lowest youth and adult smoking rates in the nation. The aggressive marketing and escalating use of e-cigarettes threatens to erode that progress,” Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH director and state health officer, said in a statement.

“Our advertising campaign is telling the public to ‘wake up’ to the fact that these are highly addictive products being mass marketed.”

The ads, part of a campaign called “Wake Up,” aired just two months after the state health department declared e-cigarettes a public health risk. They state that the devices are “a new way to inhale toxic chemicals with a drug as addictive as heroin and unknown long-term effects” and that these “next generation” cigarettes can lead “the next generation to be hooked by big tobacco.”

The state health department recently released a report and health advisory noting the highly addictive nature of nicotine in e-cigarettes, the sharp growth in use of these devices among California teens and adolescents, the rise in accidental nicotine poisonings in young kids and that there are toxic chemicals in secondhand e-cigarette smoke, according to a CDPH news release.

One of the ads suggests that flavored vapes are being marketed to children.

“We’ve seen an increase in the youth using these things,” said Dr. Helene Calvet, deputy health officer at the Orange County Health Care Agency, according to ABC. “Thirty-three percent of our 11th graders reported that they had tried them at some point in the past. They’re getting them online. They’re getting them in stores. They’re getting them at kiosks in the mall.”

The other ad, titled “What Could Go Wrong,” underlines that Big Tobacco is involved in the e-cigarette market, according to TIME.

Employees at a Costa Mesa e-cigarette store called Local Vape, check IDs of people who buy the devices to make sure they sell only to adults, according to ABC.

Camille Winans, an employee at the shop and a mother of three, told ABC it is up to parents to be aware of what their kids are doing.

“The parents just need to be responsible. You can’t leave your bottles out. You can’t do that kind of thing,” she said.

Winans also said vapes helped her quit smoking tobacco more than a year ago, adding she feels healthier using e-cigarettes.

The state health department launched the educational campaign in late January. The advertising component, which kicked off last March 23, is scheduled to run through June 2015. Ads will also be released on websites, online radio, social media, gas stations, malls, billboards and movie theaters. Officials said the campaign will include billboard ads, as well as ads in movie theaters and gas stations.

Additionally, the CDPH is partnering with local public health, medical and child care organizations to raise awareness of known toxicity associated with e-cigarettes. Furthermore, it will work with the California Department of Education to help provide parents, students, teachers and administrators accurate information about the dangers of vaping.

(With reports from ABC and TIME)

(San Francisco April 3-9, 2015 Sec. A pg.4)

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