The health experts have said that e-cigarettes have undergone consistent technological upgrades, resulting in devices that are more functional and visually appealing to children and young adults.
They also stressed on the need to expose the manipulations by e-cigarette marketeers and empower children to resist these influences.
These new age gateway products include all forms of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), heat-not-burn (HNB) products, e-hookah, among others. The conference featured a panel discussion and a capacity-building session, which led to the formulation of 10 valuable suggestions for educators.
“Much like technology has permeated various industries, big tobacco firms have also harnessed technological advancements to adapt and regain relevance. E-cigarettes or vaping instruments manufactured by these companies have undergone consistent technological upgrades, resulting in devices that are more functional, sophisticated and visually appealing to children and young adults.
“To safeguard our children, it is crucial to prevent this technological reinvention and curb the manipulation of our youth through aggressive marketing tactics,” TCF said in a statement.
Professor Amitabh Mattoo, advisor, Think Change Forum said vaping is becoming an epidemic among the youth, with post-Covid shifts in attitudes and behaviour contributing to substance abuse.
Such behaviour has been exacerbated by aggressive marketing by international tobacco companies, now focusing on vaping and e-cigarettes and aiming to revive their businesses by targeting younger generations, he further said.
“A significant concern is the widespread lack of awareness among parents, teachers and children about vaping. Given the gravity of this issue, out-of-the-box solutions are required, as government efforts alone may not be adequate,” Mattoo added.
The experts came up with 10 suggestions for educators and parents to prevent the use of gateway devices among children.
The first suggestion was to educate children about how marketing manipulates them into experimenting with electronic gateway devices.
The second suggestion was to reduce demand through active and appropriate communication with educators, parents and children.
The third suggestion emphasised inclusive awareness building with multiple dimensions such as highlighting children who do not vape as heroes or involving affected students or alumni in communication efforts. The fourth suggestion was to create awareness about these new-generation electronic vaping devices in medical colleges so that young doctors can be equipped with accurate information.