In malls, colourful e-cigarette kiosks are in plain sight of children. The sleek and youthful designs capitalise on the world's move towards gadgets and technology. Youth-friendly flavours such as 'gummy bear' create a perception that these products are safe.
A crucial part of tobacco control policy is stopping young people from starting to use tobacco products -- eight out of 10 adult smokers start smoking as teenagers and are likely to become lifetime smokers. Evidence from tobacco industry documents shows that tobacco companies also target this age group, seeking to find "replacement" smokers to maintain their market share and profits.
Advertising, use of flavoured tobacco, and point-of-sale marketing that reaches children are some of the well-known tactics employed by tobacco companies to manipulate young children. Over decades, strides have been made to shield children who are also very vulnerable to these tactics. Comprehensive restrictions on these marketing avenues have been imposed on tobacco products, but the introduction of e-cigarettes or vape products threatens to undo this progress.
The e-cigarette industry, which is still largely dominated by the tobacco industry, has been lobbying for differential or better treatment, but the government would do well to ignore the lobbying by an industry...