As a resident of Livermore, with two kids in the Livermore school district, I want to thank the Livermore City Council for adopting the ordinance regarding the sale of flavored tobacco products and e-cigarettes.
I thought the battles against big tobacco were fought and largely won a long time ago. I am old enough to remember when, a couple of decades ago, the Federal Trade Commission charged big tobacco company R.J. Reynolds with illegally targeting youth with its cigarette marketing campaign featuring its cartoon character Joe Camel.
So I was surprised a year or two ago, when I started to hear from my kids and the schools that vaping has become extremely popular among the kids, and a problem in the schools. I believe that this new generation of nicotine products is even more pernicious in their appeal to young people now than Joe Camel was back in the day.
The current devices look like cool tech products and, to unsuspecting parents, are extremely difficult to detect as purveyors of poison. Kids who vape say it tastes like candy. And the packaging is made to look like candy. Let me repeat that – it tastes and looks like candy. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who the target market for these flavored products is. It is my kids and all of our kids.
Vaping has spread like a California wildfire in our schools; while waiting to pick up my son at school, I would see several kids pull their devices out of their pockets and take a hit as they walked down the sidewalk just outside of school. The suspension rate at the schools skyrocketed when so many kids were caught vaping at school. It’s easy to see why it spread so quickly: the kid-friendly flavors and sleek packaging lure them to use it, and the nicotine hooks them.
Did we as a society not learn anything from the anti-tobacco campaigns from decades ago - that nicotine is addictive, is poisonous to our kids, and should not be marketed to young people? I support the Livermore ordinance regulating the sales of these new tobacco products and applaud the City Council for doing the right thing to protect our kids.