The tobacco industry is trying to get our kids hooked.

The tobacco industry spends $9 billion annually marketing their products, often specifically focusing on targeting our youth. While the television advertisements of the mid-century have faded, now many companies have begun exploiting social media, where our teenagers live. 

26 percent of teenagers in Colorado admit to using e-cigarettes, and 7 percent admit to smoking traditional cigarettes. Currently, there are 91,000 kids under the age of 18 in the state who will die prematurely due to smoking.

Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined. Because of this, Coloradans spend $1.89 billion in smoking-related health care costs each year. These costs result in a $654 annual tax-burden on every household from smoking-caused government expenditures.

In working to reduce the health care costs of smoking, it is crucial that we deter young people from ever picking up a cigarette in the first place: in fact, about 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21, and about 80 percent start before age 18. 

Youth that use e-cigarettes are 6 times more likely to become cigarette smokers than those who don’t smoke.

60 percent of teenagers say that e-cigarettes, like Juul, are “easy to get”. But still, teenagers in general see these products as relatively safe or without any risk.

The aerosol from e-cigarette products contain many potentially harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and metals like lead, which have not been studied in-depth enough to know the long-term effects of inhaling them. Nicotine itself is highly addictive, and causes users to suffer withdrawal symptoms if they ignore the craving. 

E-cigarettes sell flavors such as gummy bear and cotton, which appeal to kids. 81 percent of teenagers vape partially because of the flavors available. And Juul, the company which makes up three-quarters of the e-cigarette industry, uses teen social media influences to promote their products online.We know addictive behaviors start in childhood—in fact, using nicotine as a teenager has been shown to make substance abuse more likely later in life—and Juul is banking on that too.

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