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'Influencers', neighborhood stores and festivals: strategies to create a new generation of vapers


The consumption of electronic cigarettes doubled in five years among adolescents. The industry takes advantage of a more lax regulation than that of tobacco to reach them

In a bazaar in Salou, where Víctor and his friends went to celebrate that they had finished the selectivity, there were drinks, a variety of foods, snacks of all kinds and vapers.

They bought some beers to drink on the beach and decided to also try this device, similar to an electronic cigarette.

Since then, it has become a regular for him every time he goes out to a party.

“I know it's bad for my health, but I think I can control it.

I would never smoke tobacco, he gives me more respect, ”he confesses.

The vape and the electronic cigarette (two devices used to inhale an aerosol with various substances, with or without nicotine) are showing more and more harmful effects, ranging from the damage caused by the microparticles that are inhaled in the respiratory system, to cardiovascular diseases or increased risk of cancer.

In the absence of more study time on its effects, the evidence does not equate it to traditional tobacco, one of the biggest public health problems in the world.

But the more lax regulation for these new products in Spain is allowing the industry to reach a young population sector, a generation that the European Union wants to live tobacco-free.

It is common to see promotions for these devices at music festivals, there are campaigns on social networks in which


participate with a very young audience, among which there are many teenagers, and they can be found in all kinds of stores, adorned with attractive colors and advertised with sweet aromas reminiscent of candies.

There is not much dissimulation in the strategy of promoting this product that is harmful to health among the younger population.

The data says that they are getting it.

Although the latest

Survey on drug use in secondary schools in Spain

(Estudes), published in 2022, shows a small drop in consumption compared to 2019, it indicates that 44% of adolescents between 14 and 18 years old had tried drugs. e-cigarettes, which is more than double the number in 2016. The majority of students who vape opt for cartridges without nicotine (60.7%), 14.9% prefer those that do carry, and 24.4% use both types.

One of the discourses that the vaping and electronic cigarette industry (which is often also the tobacco company) has outlined is that the devices are above all designed for those who smoke, even to help them quit, and not to attract new followers.

The Union of Vaping Promoters and Entrepreneurs (UPEV), which brings together 600 small and medium-sized companies and which recorded a business record in 2022 (95 million euros), ensures that its vocation is to help smoking cessation and has among its best practices "try to discourage non-smokers from buying a device, even when they request that it be nicotine-free."

Electronic cigarette and vaping shop in Santiago de Compostela.ÓSCAR CORRAL

Blu, a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco that calls itself a leader in the electronic cigarette sector, responds —to questions from EL PAÍS— that it is aimed “exclusively at adult consumers” and that its campaigns “are carried out only on media and channels permitted by current regulations and in the terms contemplated by the legislation”.

“Although we are still far from the figures for neighboring countries such as the United Kingdom, France or Germany, there are many smokers who have decided to reduce or abandon conventional tobacco thanks to vaping.

Specifically, the latest study by Edades states that close to 45% of electronic cigarette users use these devices as a tobacco substitute," says a company spokesperson.

This is not so among the youngest.

The Estudes survey indicates that only 8.5% of students who have smoked electronic cigarettes state that their intention was to reduce their tobacco consumption or quit smoking.

In the survey mentioned by Blu (Ages), which addresses a higher age group, it is found that only two out of 10 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who vape do so motivated by quitting.

Among Blu's campaigns on social networks, you can find promotions with


that target a very young audience, with many teenagers among their followers, who promote electronic cigarettes.

Telmo Trenado published this a few months ago (without the tildes well placed) on his Instagram profile, with 150,000 followers: “GIVEAWAY!!

Do you want to go on a trip to Europe with whoever you want and get caught red-handed by a Tik Tok photographer???

Well, participate and take a Waynabox like this.

Like the post.

Follow @bluspain and me”.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Telmo Trenado (@telmotrenado)

Similar campaigns can be seen in the profiles of other


with thousands of followers, such as Jorge Amor, Fer López, Paula Gureta or Bertuss, among many others.

In the latter's profile, a user responded: “I don't know if advertising tobacco to a young audience (many minors) is very legal or ethical, really.

You already have one less follower”.

Another added: “Man, look I love you, but I wish you hadn't



I think you are a very cool reference for many people and many young people, but I think that with this campaign you are advertising a product that is harmful to health and I don't think it is the best strategy”.

And it does not only appear in explicit promotions, the electronic cigarette can be seen in audiovisual content of all kinds, including YouTube or Twitch channels, which naturalize its consumption.


like El Rubius or AuronPlay, with millions of followers on these platforms (many of them minor), have appeared on them vaping (which does not mean that they have been paid for it).

Beatriz Arranz, Health Prevention and Promotion technician from the Spanish Association Against Cancer, explains that the industry continues with an old technique that seems to work very well for it: “They associate it with young, attractive, cool people.

The social signifier is the same as that of tobacco: I smoke because I think it's cool, because people I admire do it, because it helps me to flirt, to make friends, because in my group it is perceived as positive.

I associate it with sensations that will help me relax.”

This is argued by Carla, 19, who started smoking and vaping in parallel when she was about 15: “In periods of great stress I use vaping more.

And although I know that it is not healthy, it seems to me less dirty than tobacco, which smells worse.

She explains that she has streaks of more tobacco or more electronic cigarettes, but that if she had to choose one, she would only choose the latter for "smell and comfort."

In the health sector (scientific societies and anti-tobacco platforms) they consider that the regulations should be equated to that of tobacco to restrict its promotion and points of sale: conventional cigarettes could not be sponsoring festivals, advertising on networks, or selling on neighborhood stores without a specific license, for example.

In this sense was the draft of the strategy against tobacco that the Ministry of Health has kept in a drawer for more than a year.

The Comprehensive Plan for the Prevention and Control of Smoking 2021-2025


not been approved and it seems unlikely that the department of Carolina Darias —who is about to leave office to run for mayor of Las Palmas for the PSOE— will dust it off before the end of the legislature.

Arranz complains that the same thing can happen with tobacco, which is related to a third of all cancers: "Just like in the sixties (in the eighties women) a generation of smokers began without knowing its dangers well and they regretted a few decades later, it is possible that, if we do nothing, in 20 years we will be regretting that one in three tumors have to do with vaping.

What is known about the health effects of vaping

Contrary to tobacco, whose residue is a foul-smelling smoke that impregnates the body and clothing of those who smoke it and those around them, the electronic cigarette generates a vapor of (according to taste) pleasant aromas.

But "it is misleading", according to Arranz, because they are really aerosols that contain carcinogens, heavy metals and various particles that are harmful to the body, even if they do not contain nicotine.

The short-term effects on the respiratory tract of these devices are “similar to those of tobacco”, according to a Health report published in 2022 that reviews all the scientific evidence in this regard.

“Carcinogenic substances have been found in liquids and aerosols from electronic cigarettes.

Numerous poisonings and adverse effects related to these products have been described, some of them severe.

Its use generates emissions of propylene glycol, PM 2.5 particles [very small particles that penetrate the body], nicotine and carcinogenic substances that can contaminate closed spaces, with the consequent risks due to passive exposure”, he lists.

It is true that it is not clear what the long-term effects are, something that will not be known until decades have passed since its implementation.

But scientific societies share the consensus that it is not reasonable to spend that time and then later measure it, given the obvious risks that are already known.

More controversial is the extent to which they can be used to stop smoking, one of the arguments used by the industry to defend the product.

“Electronic cigarettes could reduce the desire to smoke and other characteristic symptoms of smoking cessation.

However, although some smokers may temporarily switch to tobacco use for these products, a very low proportion appear to achieve sustained cessation in this mode.

According to the available data, neither the duration of the change in consumption nor the complete cessation are clear in the long term, ”says the Health document.

Ministry experts do warn of the danger of promoting these products, since "they could incorporate new nicotine addicts."

For many young people and adolescents, vaping is not a way out of tobacco, but rather the gateway to start smoking.

Source: elparis

All life articles on 2023-03-26

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