Making Money on Addiction
There is a pattern of products that are harmful being sold for profit:
A company making the dangerous product almost always needs to deceive to really have the sales take off.
The greatest deceiver in the retail world turns out to be the most deadly- nicotine and tobacco. Over the years, it has been the tobacco industry, more than any other, that has refined the art of lying to sell product. And their work has been copied across many industries since. The scale of the deception has been breathtaking.
Even knowing that tobacco causes cancer, shortens life, literally kills people, tobacco industries maintained an addiction rate of 25% of America for decades.
That is, at any moment in time, from World War II until quite recently, 1 in 4 American adults were firmly addicted to nicotine, or as we once said, smoked.
Readers of Real Answers with Dr. Lavin will be familiar with a series of recent posts on the most recent scam of the nicotine industry, vaping, and its top selling product, the Juul.
A few weeks ago, the NY Times reported that Congressional investigations uncovered a very expected truth: the Juul didn’t spontaneously appear in our children’s high schools, the Juul company consciously took steps to addict as many of our children as possible.
The work paid off, as anyone with a child in high school knows. Across the land, millions of high school and college kids, and also many middle schoolers, vape and the dominant product they use is the Juul. I will note that in response to many comments on earlier posts, that it is indeed true that Juul is just one vape brand. There are 500 companies that make over 8,000 different vaping devices and many allow for the person to load it up with not just nicotine, but THC from weed, fentanyl, really, anything.
Three updates are worth noting:
- Much has been discussed on the potential harm of vaping itself, now comes a confirmed report of a teen now dead from vaping.
- Maybe, just maybe, some high schools are noticing that vaping has lost its cool. Some students began reporting at the end of spring semester that vaping is being perceived as stupid, and no one uses it except those already hooked, i.e., addicted. If this trend holds we could begin to talk about the fever of chasing after vaping breaking.
- A striking observation that is consistent with the fact that our kids only started using vaping devices under a very calculated, intense, and successful marketing initiative is the ethnic mix of who uses. Even at its peak, when using Juul’s was truly all the craze, it was noted that at predominantly African-American high schools, there was little interest or use.
The Juul marketeers aimed squarely at well-off white kids, and it turns out that is who ended up using them.
- Vaping is dangerous. Nicotine addicts 1 in 3 of those who play around with it.
- We now have a report of a teen killed by use of a vaping device.
- It is not an accident, or coincidental that our communities were assaulted by an explosion of Juul use, the company planned it all along, and succeeded.
There are very early indicators the Juul fever may be passing, let us all let kids know how dangerous, and expensive use is and hope the scam that has hurt so many ends soon.
To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin