About a month ago, a colleague of ours wrote a piece on the costs of smoking e-cigarettes. We decided we wanted to highlight her words were worth sharing over here at The Science of Parenting as well. Please welcome our guest blogger, Joyce Lash, Human Science Specialist in Family Finance.
It’s strange to hear marketing promoting the use of e-cigarettes. Legislation has restricted campaigns promoting tobacco products for many years. A frequently-used e-cig marketing approach targets smokers who feel their habit has forced them into self-imposed isolation to hide their habit or protect others from second hand exposure. Web sites declare the product is for individuals who already smoke, offering them a safer alternative.
Nicotine is an addictive substance and e-cigarette ads or commercials clearly state its presence. E-cigarette use often leads to use of tobacco products. Among individuals who smoke, nine out of ten started as teens.
A 2016 report by the Surgeon Generals Office pointed to data indicating a rapid increase in the use of e-cigarettes (also known as “vaping”) by teens and young adults. In research designed to measure whether youth understand the risks, the findings clearly indicate that teens and young adults view e-cigarettes as safe. Flavor options are attractive, and natural curiosity are reasons given to try e-cigarettes.
Tobacco product use in any form, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe for adolescents. Lifelong addiction is costly, not only in health terms, but also in financial terms. E-cigarette pods, equivalent to a pack of cigarettes, cost $4-$5. The device to use the pods is around $35. When a substance is addictive, as e-cigarettes are, users will typically increase consumption over time. This is a bonus for the companies selling the products. Even with low use (2 pods a week), the habit will cost $500 a year.
Running a calculation of what $500 a year could become if it was saved provides an argument against vaping. A modest $50 deposited monthly into an account earning 3% a year with annual compounding (I’m being intentionally conservative here…) from the age of 16 until age 65 would result in cash assets of $65,000. Unfortunately it’s hard to make this example exotic enough to hook individuals on saving instead of vaping.