Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Heard of Vaping? You need to.

Using NPR podcasts from Youth Radio as mentor texts, we listened to one today about e-cigarettes and middle school students: Candy Flavors Put Put E-Cigarettes Back on Kids' Menu.

I listened to it for all five of my classes today and broiled worse the more I heard it and then thought about this unconscionable act.

First, you have to know a term. The smoking of an electronic cigarette is called vaping.

The speaker in the podcast explains what kids do, "The kids were smoking an electronic cigarette, sometimes called a vape pen. It's a hand-held, battery-powered device that vaporizes a liquid, which is often infused with nicotine. You inhale the vapor through a mouthpiece, and exhale what looks like smoke, which can smell like candy."

Which can smell like candy.

Yeah. Can't get much more transparent than that.

None of these products are currently regulated by the FDA.

Second, you have to know one of the major players behind this movement. The owner of Tasty Vapor (nice, predatory name), Geoff Braithwaiter, receives my most despicable human being award after stating, "Our target customer base is those people who felt doomed to a life of smoking. But there's going to be that novelty around it, it's a brand new thing, it's an electronic device. That kind of stuff is always going to appeal to kids. It would have appealed to me."

See, Tasty Vapor scents its smoke (which contains nicotine) with flavors and aromas appealing to kids such as gummy bear and cotton candy. While kids can set and adjust the amount of nicotine with the right equipment, Braithwaiter speaks out of both sides of his mouth and suggests his product helps people "doomed to a life of smoking" and casually notes that, sure, kids might find it intriguing too.

While purposely marketing it towards kids who I am sure he hopes become condemned target customers doomed to a life of smoking.

Believing that his product can help addicted adult smokers is one thing, but nothing good comes out of his marketing and preying on adolescents.

Braithwaiter, you are the predatory Joe Camel incarnate. You are targeting kids, kids who don't smoke.

And you are turning them into smokers.

Many of my students claimed not to know much about it; some showed a curiosity. We saw that they are for sale on eBay and various websites. I took a peak at the Instagram hashtag mentioned in the podcast (#vapelife) and saw hundreds of images of young people vaping in addition to images of the paraphernalia.

So, after decades of teaching and coaxing kids off of cigarettes, the world has spawned another unconscionable opportunist.

The best way to fight it, as always, is to educate yourself and educate your kids. Because if you don't explain it to them then they will either make up their own answers or end up duped by predatory companies like Tasty Vapor.


  1. I truly believe in educating kids about these types of things. I recently found out that kids at my school are snorting Smarties! I was livid, so I talked at length with my students about it. When I approached the principal about doing a program at school, she said we shouldn't draw attention to it. Others may try it. What is your opinion? I think knowledge is power.

  2. Disgusting. But I think you are right in bringing these issues into the open and discussing them with our kids.

  3. Yes, I second your award for this guy! This is terrible!

  4. Great study and awareness building about such a dangerous health topic. Such an article would be a great Article of the Week for discussion or review (appeals, persuasion, text structures, or the like) before testing. I was equally horrified last year to see students tagging pictures of themselves vaping at school on their Instagram and Twitter accounts. Scary to think of all that implies.

  5. I'm beginning to hear more about e cigarettes and of course versions will be created to appeal to kids, of course.
    Good thing teachers are on top of this. Thank you so much Brian,

  6. Blown away. I had no idea; this is disgusting and wrong on so many levels. Hashtag horrible. I think I just found my mentor text for social commentary this week. Hope you don't mind me enlightening outspoken young minds with your argument here. It's brilliant.