What do e-cigarettes do to your body? (AP, Reuters, Getty Images, Shutterstock)
During the summer vacation, the youth have more free time and more entertainment time, and the electronic cigarette has become an integral part of the entertainment of some of the youth groups. They can sit in parks, bars or just on a bench on the street and just take inhalation after inhalation for long minutes without noticing that they smoke at all and more in such a large amount.
The number of teenagers in Israel who smoke daily has doubled in the past four years. The electronic cigarette has lowered the age of experimentation among teenagers, if in the past the age of experimentation was 14-15, today the age of experimentation is 12. Beyond that, we are also seeing a significant increase among teens who continue to smoke after their first experience. And all this under the auspices of the electronic cigarette.
Why has the e-cigarette caught on so strongly among teenagers?
It is important to understand that there is really no difference between an electronic cigarette and a regular cigarette. The difference is mainly in its marketing packaging. Tobacco companies present the e-cigarette as "less" harmful and more cool. But unfortunately, recently we have witnessed the severe damage of the electronic cigarette in quite a few cases.
Aggressive marketing by tobacco companies presenting the product as a "healthier" and cooler product, which has created a herd effect among teenagers - if so many use it, maybe I should also give it a try.
Is an electronic cigarette more dangerous than a regular cigarette?
There are several characteristics that make electronic cigarettes more dangerous - mainly because of the nature of its use, which is sometimes much higher than the smoking nature of regular cigarettes. One electronic cigarette has much more nicotine than a regular cigarette and it should be remembered that a regular cigarette has a certain smoking time – about five minutes, after which most smokers stop smoking until the next cigarette (except for the heavy addicts who light another cigarette).
In addition, the regular cigarette requires the smoker to leave the house / room to an open place to smoke and return to the place. An electronic cigarette can be consumed anywhere, there is no set time for smoking and it can be done for long minutes without noticing it.
An electronic cigarette also does not have a terrible smell like a regular cigarette, and therefore the odor characteristic that deters people from smoking decreases in the electronic cigarette.
The electronic cigarette is cheaper than regular cigarettes, and cost is a very important thing among teenagers.
More in Walla!
The leading HMO presents: The services that will make your life easier
In collaboration with Clalit
Illustrations of teenagers smoking (Photo: ShutterStock)
The difference in the ratio of parents between a regular cigarette and an electronic cigarette
Apparently, not only among parents, but society as a whole perceives electronic cigarettes as a healthier alternative: the companies that manufacture them present them as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, a kind of "lesser evil" and even as a legitimate means of cessation.
The messages conveyed in the marketing of electronic cigarettes mislead the smoking public by claiming that it will be easier for them to quit regular cigarettes by switching to electronic cigarettes, but what they do not tell is that most users will still be addicted to electronic cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes, even if they are less harmful than regular cigarettes, contain chemicals that endanger the smoker and increase his chances of developing cancer, and most importantly - their entire purpose is to keep the smoking public addicted to nicotine and consumers of tobacco companies until the day they die. Precisely because of the way they are marketed and because there is still not enough information and research about the dangers because the product is relatively new to the market. The harms of smoking from regular cigarettes also took several decades to be discovered. We will get to the same situation soon if we don't do something to stop it.
How is the phenomenon treated?
At Alan Carr, we treat the phenomenon on two levels: prevention and withdrawal.
In terms of prevention, we give lectures to youth in educational frameworks in order to remove the "cool and rebellious" image from the cigarette, thus preventing the new generation from falling into the trap of tobacco companies.
On the level of withdrawal, we adapted our workshops for teenagers who already smoke and for e-cigarette cessation. So they, too, will easily resolve this dependence without feeling relinquished, not by intimidation and talking about the harms of smoking, but by changing their perception of cigarettes and smoking.
The cigarette is perceived by smoking teenagers as relaxing, helps concentration, relieves boredom, contributes to a strong and cool image. Smoking is considered an act of rebellion , something that any teenager would want. In our workshop we talk about shattering these myths, and at the end the boy sees the cigarette in its true light - not relaxing or helping concentration, not a social tool, but as interfering with concentration, impairing calm and pleasure and making the smoker nervous and addicted. He understands that smoking is an act of rebellion but enslavement.
And what can parents do?
Despite the concern, do not preach morality. Contrary to popular belief that behavior can be rationally influenced, many studies show that through intimidation, the opposite result is often achieved. All smokers, even the youngest ones, know that smoking is very harmful. The more a smoker hears about the damage a cigarette can cause him, the more he will press, and the thing the smoker wants most when he is stressed is a cigarette.
Smokers feel more persecuted, "assigned" and misunderstood , these produce an "anti" to change and entrenchment in the current behavior - smoking. Therefore, a "delicate inquiry" should be conducted to gently clarify with our child how much he smokes. Is he aware that e-cigarettes also have health disadvantages, does he know that they contain nicotine? Does he feel dependent on them? And from there try to make cessation attempts , preferably with the help of specialists.
Assaf Ashkenazi is Alan Carr's Director of Operations
- Electronic cigarettes