“I’m not just worried about my generation, I’m worried about my little brother’s”

– 8th grade student, Holbrook Middle-High School

It is no secret that tobacco companies target young people.

Decades ago, Big Tobacco marketed cigarettes to young people in an attempt to get lifelong customers hooked on their products. Over time, we saw the terrible health impacts of smoking on our youth. Eventually, we fought back, and today less than 4 percent of high school students across the country smoke traditional cigarettes.

But now we have a new battle on our hands: e-cigarettes.

Graphic from The Truth Initiative

While less than 8% of high school students in Massachusetts smoke cigarettes, 20% of them are currently using e-cigarettes. And worse, almost half of all high school students in Massachusetts claim to have tried e-cigarettes at least once.

E-cigarette companies like Juul are taking pages out of the old tobacco playbook. They are targeting kids with flavors like mango, strawberry cake, banana cream, mint, and menthol. They market and sell nicotine delivery devices that look like computer thumb drives. Young people are convinced that because it doesn’t taste, look, or smell like tobacco, it can’t be bad for them.

But these products are filled with powerful nicotine that is quickly getting our young people hooked. One Juul pod has as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes and delivers nicotine to the brain 2.7 times faster. And because there is no smoke or smell, our students are using the products more frequently throughout the day, often times in school bathrooms, on buses, and even in classrooms.

I remember seeing what cigarettes did to my generation, and to my parents’ generation before that. Since then, we made great progress in preventing young people from smoking cigarettes, but today, we are losing decades of progress to e-cigarettes.

We banned the sale of flavored cigarettes in 2009 because we knew it was the fruity and sweet flavors attracting young people to smoking. It’s vital that we address flavors for e-cigarettes, too.

That’s why we have partnered with local advocacy groups like Tobacco Free Mass, the 84 Movement, the American Heart Association, and others, to fight Big Tobacco. We are telling the tobacco industry loudly and clearly – you will not take another generation from us.

Kids are starting to stand up and fight Big Tobacco, and we are standing and fighting right alongside them. Together, we’ll ban the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Please join us as we fight the flavor!

John Keenan