A Letter to Youth Fighting the Tobacco WarsDear Young Activists,
First, I want to congratulate you on finding a cause you believe in and standing up and fighting for what you believe is right. More people in our country need to do that! You are learning skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life, and that is always a good thing.
Yesterday was #IKickButts day. Youth from around the world spoke up to #EndIt and be the first smoke-free generation! They learned about and taught their peers about the dangers of tobacco use. They pledged to never smoke. It’s a wonderful thing to see a generation of young people push and advocate to make a healthier choice than all the generations before them. You guys rock and I hope you not only stick to your pledge to never smoke, I hope you encourage many others to never smoke or to give up smoking.
There are many things in life that are “adult”. Feeding your family, paying rent, drinking, sex, serving in the military, voting, being on a jury are all examples of “adult” things. As young people, it is very normal to want to be treated like an adult. “Adulting” sounds like such a cool thing to do. Sometimes it is cool, making our own choices, following our dreams. The heavy burden of “adulting” can suck at times, it’s more responsibility than we ever imagined.
There is a whole new technology out there that was invented to be the consumer solution to the tobacco problem. For some people, it helps them quit smoking. It was never meant to be a “cool” thing. Sometimes, it’s just human nature to make things bigger, more powerful, faster, etc. Seems like humans can turn anything into a competition. This new technology was meant for adults and millions of adults around the world have used this new technology and have succeeded at quitting smoking. This new technology is often called Vapor Technology, E-cigs, or Ends (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems).
Vapor Technology is an adult product. It’s not meant for kids. I realize that there are always going to be kids that feel the need to break the rules and try “adult” things. I'm reaching out to the youth of the world and asking - no, I'm BEGGING - you to please NOT vape. Don’t put stuff that you don’t need into your body when your body is still growing and developing (yes, in all honesty, I’m also asking you not to smoke, do drugs, drink, etc.). I mention vape specifically because your desire to try an “adult” thing, be it curiosity, the need to experiment, the thrill of breaking the rules, or because you think you look cool is having severe unintended consequences. People who care about youth are very concerned about those of you who choose to vape, even if you vape zero nicotine liquids.
I get people getting concerned. I’m a Mom. I am blessed to a fault with what I call “Momma Bear Syndrome”. Momma bears are very protective and when I see a young person in danger or not treated right, I get angry and my Momma Bear urges go into full swing. There are men and women all over the world who also have Momma Bear Syndrome. When they see youth doing things that youth shouldn’t do, they feel the need to protect those youth. It is the adult thing to do to protect youth.
Now we’ve come upon a problem between youth experimentation, Momma Bears, and the need to save adult lives, and the lives of anyone exposed to 2nd hand smoke. When young people choose to break the rules and vape, the Momma Bears feel the need to stop them. So Momma Bears are out trying to change the definition of this product that contains no tobacco to the classification of a tobacco product. They are trying to tax it, ban it, and over regulate it. In essence, they are trying to get rid of the entire vapor industry. Your need to experiment could cost people their lives. Many adults have failed over and over to quit smoking. Many adults are finally succeeding at quitting by using vapor technology. We all know if people don’t smoke, lives will be saved.
Do you know any smokers? Do you want to see them quit? Do you want to see them live a long, healthy life? Do you still want the rest of us to treat you like an adult and let you make your own choices? Fine, here’s your first choice to make…
You can choose to NOT vape and do the right thing for your body and have the Momma Bear’s go back to worrying about other things.
You can choose TO vape, help get it banned or taxed so high it’s cheaper to smoke. You can be part of the snowball that ends up having more people die because they didn’t quit smoking.
Doing something you perceive to be “cool” or doing something to avoid unintended consequences and having a life saving technology taken away from the people who need it.
1st rule of being a responsible adult - it’s not always about you. Sometimes, you need to make choices for the betterment of others. Your choice will prove to me just how “adult” you are capable of being. Make me proud.