Just a few years ago, there were just two cigarette flavors: regular and menthol. With the rapid growth of electronic cigarettes, there’s now a whole smorgasbord of flavors: from fruits and alcoholic drinks to candies and meals. The choices are bewildering.
According to the New York Times, the e-cigarette industry has now produced over 7,000 flavors, and is introducing about 250 more each month.
While health authorities are still debating whether e-cigarettes have any beneficial effects, such as helping smokers to quit or offering an alternative to the deadly tar-nicotine fix from a regular fag, the current development of the market indicates that more young people are likely to get into smoking, lured by the vast array of flavors that e-cigarettes offer.
In the United States, in fact, federal authorities banned cigarette flavorings except menthol because they attract young people into smoking. Youth is that age when curiosity, peer pressure and rebellion to authority are the strongest, and that’s when most cases of nicotine addiction start. So instead of serving as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes with its wide choice of flavors could open the door to nicotine addiction for youngsters.
Meanwhile, those who are planning to quit smoking may convince themselves that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative, and thus continue with their addiction.
Here in Hong Kong, e-cigarettes are being marketed as nicotine replacement therapy, which means one has to be licensed to sell them as pharmaceutical products. But as some Hong Kong newspapers reported, many of these products are sold online, and as such, regulating their use in the city could be tricky.
In short, the more than half a century of dedicated efforts by health authorities, experts and governments worldwide to make people aware of the health hazards of smoking (it is still the No. 1 cause of preventable death) and restrict the promotion and sale of cigarettes may all be wasted with the rapid and unrestricted growth of e-cigarettes.
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