Heathcare"The puff makes the next generation of smokers", worries...

“The puff makes the next generation of smokers”, worries the Alliance against tobacco


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It has made a name for itself on the shelves of tobacconists and vape shops. And quickly found its audience. The puff, this disposable electronic cigarette, is particularly popular with teenagers, although its sale to minors is prohibited. Marketed between 8 and 12 euros for the 500 puff model – or puff in English (hence its name) – this e-cigarette that can contain up to 20 mg of nicotine has been popularized on social networks.

A godsend for tobacconists and manufacturers, who are seeing sales take off. This is causing more and more concern. “It is a gateway for adolescents to smoking,” warns Professor Loïc Josseran, professor of public health at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin and director of the Alliance Against Tobacco (ACT). On the occasion of the month without tobacco, 20 minutes explored this phenomenon.

A product “designed to win over teenagers”

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Frozen lychee, milkshake, marshmallow, unicorn candy, coconut ice-cream or even bubble gum and chocolate hazelnut: the list of flavors offered by puff manufacturers have a regressive taste of ice cream stands. “We are faced with a product designed to conquer very young adolescents, from 11 years old, with these attractive and recreational aromas, colorful packaging. As if they were harmless products and not the latest finds from the tobacco industry to develop lucrative markets,” warns Professor Josseran.

With the price of a pack of cigarettes constantly rising and tobacco sales declining in France in 2021, with the puff, the sector intends to boost its sales. “By seducing minors, although it is illegal to sell them,” insists Professor Josseran. When I see that British American Tobacco (BAT) is also releasing a puff, it’s to take advantage of this market, which will retain young consumers for decades to come. Not only do manufacturers know this, but this is precisely what they are looking for”.

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Moreover, the firm EliquidAndCo, which sells a wide range of puffs, makes no secret of introducing young people to “the taste and gesture of cigarettes”. Its commercial argument: “You will really have the impression of smoking as with a tobacco cigarette”, noted the association 60 million consumers.

“I love sweet tastes”

But “real smokers like me, and those who vape to quit, don’t like it,” confides a Parisian tobacconist. I tested and found it really bad. It is a product that appeals to occasional smokers, who like the sweet side”. And these products that flatter the palate of young people have actually found their audience. Including Lorelei, 16 and a half years old: “I love sweet exotic tastes, like strawberry kiwi and frozen mango. It’s a bit like a little shisha that fits in your pocket, ”continues the teenager, who “does not smoke cigarettes”. Ditto for Romain, 17 years old: “I don’t smoke, but I’ve already tested the puff, to see”.

Daniel was amazed when he saw one fall from his 15-year-old son’s backpack. “We talk about things quite freely, especially since his older sister smokes, and so do I. He didn’t, so I didn’t understand why he bought that. He told me it was “just to test a fun perfume and do like the buddies”, as if it were harmless. It makes me angry because I know how hard it is to quit smoking: I started smoking again after ten years of quitting. But obviously, the puff, my minor son and his friends had no trouble getting it, ”laments the father of the family. “I’ve never had any problem buying one, I’ve never been asked my age,” confirms Lorelei.

A laxity for which the 23,500 or so tobacconists in the territory are often singled out. At the end of 2021, the National Committee against Smoking (CNCT) affirmed, after a “mystery shopper” survey with 17-year-olds, that six out of ten tobacconists violated the ban on the sale of tobacco to minors.

Massive advertising on networks aimed at young people

And if it is easy for teenagers to buy puffs, the temptation is fueled on social networks. According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, “BAT has invested 1 billion pounds over five years to promote its new products,” says Professor Josseran. In particular via influencers based in Dubai who advertise it for a fee”. “For more than a year, the “puff” phenomenon has rightly worried because certain products, their marketing and their marketing do not comply with the regulations in force”, admits France Vapotage, the sector federation.

And if the Confederation of tobacconists, which brought together its members for its annual congress at the end of October, is delighted with the “dynamic sales of this new product”, according to its president Philippe Coy, it deplores “the marketing done around it, with a well-defined targeting on a young population. This puts us in a very delicate situation: influencers have communicated on TikTok, this has created a request that we must refuse, which is quite complicated for us on a daily basis, ”added its president.

“Risk of pediatric epidemic and ecological cata”

And the young “puffeurs” of today “will be the smokers of tomorrow, repeats Professor Loïc Josseran. We are facing a risk of a pediatric epidemic. Even with a puff without nicotine, there is a ritual that sets in: we go buy it, we take it in hand, we pull on it like on a cigarette. However, all the smokers received in consultation say it: the gesture is already addiction”.

Another detail holds the attention of the director of the ACT. “The puff is single-use, and that’s not innocent: no need to plug it in to recharge it, no risk of leaving small bottles of liquid lying around in your room. In a pencil case, it goes unnoticed, and when you’ve finished it, you throw it away. Everything has been cleverly thought out to seduce this audience behind the parents’ backs! »

So, how not to make puff a way of entry for young people into smoking? For the ACT and the CNCT, the answer is simple: “the marketing must be prohibited. We conducted a survey which shows that 13% of adolescents aged 13 to 16 have already consumed “puffs”, says Professor Josseran. And nearly one in ten has already bought some, despite the ban on sales to minors in force”. on the beaches,” confirms Diane Beaumenay-Joannet, project manager on plastics at the NGO Surfrider.

“The best thing is to see them disappear”

So, how to prevent the puff from being a way of entry for young people into smoking? For the ACT and the CNCT, the answer is simple: “the marketing must be prohibited. We conducted a survey which shows that 13% of adolescents aged 13 to 16 have already consumed it, says Professor Josseran. And nearly one in ten has already bought it, despite the ban.

If the puffs continue their breakthrough, “not only will the government’s goal of seeing the first generation smoke-free move away, but we also risk seeing the emergence of a generation of smokers whose addiction will be born from these e-cigarettes. Because you shouldn’t imagine that a kid who shoots a strawberry puff at 13 will stop there.

Source: 20minutes

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I have worked as a journalist for over 10 years and have written for various news outlets. I currently work as an author at 24 News Recorder, mostly covering entertainment news. I have a keen interest in the industry and enjoy writing about the latest news and gossip. I am also a member of the National Association of Journalists.


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