By Patrick Baron
BLOOMINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin visited Advocate BroMenn Medical Center today, calling for a ban on e-cigarette marketing towards kids.
Durbin said vape companies are targeting children, pulling them in with devices that resemble USB flash drives and juice boxes that have cartoons on them, in addition to appealing tobacco flavors like strawberries and cream and cookies and milk. Camille Rodriguez, director of the McLean County Health Department, noted 27 percent of high school students are vaping.
Durbin explained these marketing tactics are identical to how companies used to market cigarettes to teenagers in the past.
“Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind who they are marketing to and how they’re marketing? They’re selling to kids an addictive product,” said Durbin. “It’s the same story that we went through with tobacco cigarettes.”
Durbin is calling for the legal age of vaping and smoking tobacco to be raised to 21. He said if teens and kids stay away from the harmful effects of nicotine until they become 21, they are significantly less likely to become addicted.
While some argue that vaping is a healthy alternative to smoking cigarettes, Durbin said users can still become addicted to nicotine.
“Originally, vaping was sold as the healthy alternative to tobacco cigarettes, the way to end tobacco addiction. And it turns out it’s insidious and harmful in it of itself and it doesn’t guarantee any end to tobacco addiction,” Durbin explained.
He acknowledged that, if such a proposal is successful, vape companies will continue to find ways to market their products to young people.
Patrick Baron can be reached at [email protected].