Letter to the editor, Matt Smith, principal, Centralia High School
During the years I was in elementary and secondary school, the use of cigarettes was widespread among school age children. Since that time the social acceptance of cigarette use has been consistently bombarded by the medical community, educational institutions, community and national public service efforts, and by society at large. Without question, that decades long campaign to limit or eliminate cigarette use has been effective in deterring large numbers of children from taking up smoking.
This has also hit big tobacco hard in the pocket book. In recent years, big tobacco has counterpunched.
A concentrated effort has been made at the corporate level, to camouflage the sale of addictive and destructive products, as support for an anti-smoking agenda. Make no mistake, this is strictly deceptive and dishonest propaganda. The misinformation campaign has come in the form of producing and marketing e-cigarette and vapor inhaling products under the guise of cessation products. Are there addicted adults who have used these products to wean themselves off nicotine? Most likely the answer is yes. However, that very limited lost business pales in comparison to the waves of new customers attracted to e-cigarette use, particularly in the middle and high school age groups. Corporations behind this new age marketing campaign are well aware of the fact that the small amount of cessation assistance these products provide will be massively over shadowed by the new generation of customers they are attracting, addicting, and ultimately harming. If there is any doubt about intent, keep in mind that the parent company of JUUL(a leading e-cigarette manufacturer) is also the parent company of Marlboro.
I can’t speak for society at large or for national demographical trends. I can, however, speak directly to what is happening with school age children in Centralia, MO. Here in our community, our children are less likely than many generations before them to be attracted to cigarette use. The negative health impacts and social stigma the anti-smoking effort has reinforced is embedded in their consciences. However, the stylish craze of e-cigarette and vapor inhaling products has taken over this same group of young people, right here in Centralia, like a plague. As someone who interacts with hundreds of Centralia youth daily, I can tell you without question that the school age children in our community are attracted to e-cigarettes and vapor inhaling products in vast numbers.
For the complete letter, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.