When you have the opportunity to talk with youth about using nicotine products, please don’t waste your time overwhelming them with facts about how it will harm their health and how addictive they are. Is that what I’m most concerned about? Absolutely! But it’s not what they are concerned with, and you will lose them in a heartbeat. So, what will they listen to? They will listen to the fact that Big Tobacco is concerned with one thing, profit. They have always considered youth as replacements for most customers that will become sick and die prematurely from using their products. When we show them the predatory advertising and marketing of the tobacco and vaping industry, youth don’t like being played.

Youth also cares about environmental issues. Tobacco and vaping are the largest forms of single-use plastic global environmental threats. Every minute, people dispose of 8.5 million cigarette butts. That is enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in under an hour. Cigarette butts leach nicotine and other chemicals that harm or kill aquatic life. Micro-plastics have been found in water, in the air, and even in human organs and breast milk.

E-cigarette waste is potentially a more serious environmental threat than cigarette butts since e-cigarettes introduce plastic, nicotine salts, heavy metals, lead, mercury, and flammable lithium-ion batteries into waterways, soil, and to wildlife. Unlike cigarette butts, e-cigarette waste won’t biodegrade even under severe conditions. E-cigarettes left on the street eventually break down into micro-plastics and chemicals that flow into the storm drains to pollute our waterways and wildlife. There are many good resources for information on the environmental impact of tobacco products, check out Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes, “Vapes are Trash”: https://www.parentsagainstvaping.org/vapesaretrash

Standing up against big industries that use slave labor, pollute our planet, and use predatory advertising to addict individuals is cool. Giving your money to Big Tobacco, which is interested in only making profits and harm our environment is…(I ask them to tell me how smart it is.)