Thursday, January 30, 2020

There’s a right way and a wrong way to “Ditch JUUL”


There’s a right way and a wrong way to “Ditch JUUL”
Author:  Minnesota Smoke Free Alliance


Across the nation parents, educators, public health groups, and lawmakers are working hard to prevent youth use of adult products. Normally, we would applaud those efforts. On January 7, 2020 we became aware of a new campaign that has us deeply concerned. It crosses the line between encouraging kids to not use adult products to motivating children to be in possession of products not legal for them to have, normalizing kids having these products, and then having kids make a video of themselves taking a serious risk of injury, death, fire, or property damage by destroying their JUUL or other vapor product. . 

We learned of this campaign from the article by People Magazine "From Hot Ice to Swimming Pools, Teens Are Coming Up with Creative Ways to Ditch Their Vapes". The article states “Truth Initiative is encouraging youths to quit using e-cigarettes and break their vapes in viral videos”. Truth’s “This is Quitting” campaign is using influencers on social media platforms such as TikTok to encourage kids and young adults to ditch their JUUL (or other vapor product) and then post the video of them doing it. Although this is a unique and novel idea, we have very grave concerns about the lack of thought for the safety of our youth who are participating in this campaign. The campaign has been shared on several forms of social media by People Magazine, Truth Initiative, Truth Orange, and many public health / anti tobacco groups. News of the story is spreading and can now be found on websites such as Time, Now This, PopSugar Fitness, More About Advertising, etc. As of January 15, 2020, the campaign has spread to other countries, endangering children around the world. This campaign / challenge by Truth Initiative raises the following concerns:
Safety Concerns

Vapor products are powered by lithium ion batteries. The same types of batteries used in computers, cell phones, toys, and other consumer products. These compact batteries have a lot of power to them, and must be handled properly. According to the Lithium Battery Safety Guide by the University of Washington, the following are important battery safety tips:

  • Handle batteries and or battery-powered devices cautiously to not damage the battery casing or connections.
  • Keep batteries from contacting conductive materials, water, seawater, strong oxidizers and strong acids.
  • Do not place batteries in direct sunlight, on hot surfaces or in hot locations. 

People aware of the potential for injuries caused by the willful destruction of products powered by lithium ion batteries immediately responded to People Magazine on twitter and asked for the story to be retracted. The story is still online. 

Several concerned citizens responded to Truth Initiative’s tweet and facebook post and Truth Orange’s tweet warning of the danger and asking them to stop this campaign. No one received a reply from Truth. Most of the warnings started on January 7, 2020. Truth ignored the warnings and on January 8th repeated the push for the campaign on Twitter, Facebook (Truth Initiative), Facebook (Truth Orange), Instagram, and on their website. They continued to promote this “challenge” over the next few days.

Truth didn’t need to be warned by the general public. They were already aware of the potential hazards of mishandling lithium ion batteries. The Ex Program by Truth Initiative as well as Truth’s e-cigarette fact sheet both mention the potential for battery explosions.

Vaping consumers and industry stakeholders appear to be working harder to promote battery safety, than a health organization that’s promoting children do dangerous things with batteries.
Environmental Concerns

The GUIDE: How to Responsibly Dispose of Lithium-Ion Batteries, educates about the need to handle and dispose of lithium ion batteries properly because if batteries are handled incorrectly, there is a higher risk of fire, pollution and other negative effects. The guide says “Lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries contain a variety of chemicals. Improper disposal has significant consequences, such as environmental pollution and loss of (material) resources.” Their list of “don’ts” include:

  • Dispose of li-ion batteries with ‘regular’ waste
  • Crush, puncture, throw or do anything to the batteries that might result in damage to them
An effort to encourage youth to stop using vapor products and get rid of them was a perfect opportunity to also educate young people on how to properly dispose of these products. For years, Truth has talked about the litter and toxic waste caused by cigarette butts. Examples of their concern include coastal areas (Instagram), most littered item on Earth (Instagram), and cigarette butts will pollute the planet (YouTube).

The batteries in vapor products should be recycled, not thrown in the trash or tossed around as litter, or thrown into bodies of water. In recent years Truth has expressed concerns about the environmental impact of vapor product waste. On April 16, 2019 Truth Orange post a video on YouTube about vapor products creating toxic waste. Videos from October 24, 2019 #1 and  October 24, 2019 #2 made claims of environmental dangers of not properly disposing of vapor products. This shows that long before their “Ready to Ditch JUUL” campaign, they were aware that these products should be disposed of properly.

What is the reason Truth Initiative is ignoring the danger and environmental impact of mishandling vaping devices that contain these batteries? We do not know.
Examples of participants in the Ditch JUUL Campaign

Below are examples of some of the videos we found from young people participating in this challenge, and some examples of why it’s dangerous to do these things to batteries.


  • In this video the participant drops the battery into a beaker of what appears to be baking soda and vinegar. According to Good Housekeeping, baking soda and vinegar should never be mixed. It can be explosive. We’ve also mentioned in a section above, the batteries shouldn’t be exposed to acidic chemicals. Vinegar is an acid. 

  • This is the reaction that can happen when batteries are  exposed to liquids. These are examples of young people throwing vapor products into bodies of water: here, here, and a swimming pool. This young person taped a vape to his chest and belly flopped into a pool. There are many more videos on TikTok of kids and young adults dropping a JUUL into water.  

  • Dropping products into boiling water. Overheating batteries can cause thermal runaway as demonstrated in this video.

  • Exposing product to spray paint and dropping it into what looks like urine 

  • Tossing it on the ground and smoking a cigarette instead. Here’s another one suggesting deadly smoking instead of vaping.
  • Putting a vapor product in a tailpipe and shooting it out the exhaust with flames.
  • There are a few videos on people improperly disposing of their devices by throwing them in the trash. Here is an example. Vape batteries should never be thrown in the trash because batteries that are damaged by a compactor truck may start a fire. 
  • Endangering the life of another by mistaking an asthma inhaler for a vape and throwing it in the trash. If it were a vapor product, it doesn’t belong in the trash because that’s not the proper way to dispose of batteries. 
“Normalizing” children using adult products (marketing to kids)

The Truth Initiative has a long history of expressing concerns over children seeing the use of tobacco or vapor products in their daily lives. From retail outlets, movies, video games, social media, and others using the products, they have sounded the alarm over the normalization of youth use of tobacco products. (Examples: 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2019)

The “Ditch JUUL” campaign shows young people around the world with a vapor product in their hand. In most locations, it is not legal for these children to have those products. This campaign not only normalizes children having these products, it normalizes disrespect for the law.

The Truth Initiative often shares images of cool, hip, young people using tobacco and vapor products. Isn’t this another form of marketing to kids? Isn’t the constant bombardment of images of cool young people using tobacco and vapor products a form of normalizing the use of these products? Here are a few examples: 12/2/19, 12/16/19, 12/21/19, 12/27/19, and 1/7/20. Wouldn’t our children be better served by not seeing images of people smoking or vaping? 
These concerns are being expressed by more than us

Sheila Vakharia PhD MSW  - “I want to launch an account on TikTok to counter the #ThisIsQuitting HT by offering youth who want to quit strategies to recognize patterns, try moderation and reduction strategies, and avoid electrocuting themselves.”

Brad Rodu, Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville, endowed chair in tobacco harm reduction research, and a member of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the U of L, has expressed concerns that our efforts to persuade children not to use adult products is in reality having the unintended consequence of marketing those products to our kids. Once example of his speaking out about these concerns is in this piece he wrote: "FDA Infographic on Teen Vaping: Hey Kids!". 

Truth Initiative Promo Encourages Risky Teen Behavior by Jim McDonald from Vaping 360. Mr. McDonald covers several of the issues that are covered in this report. He said “Apparently no one at Truth Initiative thought about the potential consequences of promoting activities that might lead to battery cells rupturing and going into thermal runaway. That could happen when you jump on an e-cigarette, throw in on concrete, drag it behind a car, or fly it through the air with a hot-air balloon—all stunts depicted in Truth’s collection of TikTok videos.” He goes on to cover the issue of putting these batteries in water. “Submerging lithium batteries in water is also a bad idea. If the device was damaged (for example, by dragging it from a car, throwing it on concrete, or jumping on it), contact with water might create a short that could lead to a fiery explosion. It’s odd that Truth would ignore these risks, since the organization’s own website has a warning about vape explosions.”
Conclusion

We agree with the facebook post by Vida News. It is time to STOP targeting our kids with ads that make them think “everyone is doing it”. It is not OK for manufacturers or retailers to show kids using adult products, and it shouldn’t be OK for the media or advocacy and health organizations to do so, either. It doesn’t matter WHO shows images of children using adult products in the eyes of a child, all they see is that kids are doing it and it motivates them to do it, too. We teach by example. Let’s make sure the example our children see does not involve children having adult products. This holds doubly true when it comes to encouraging our children to do something with those products that could endanger the health and well being of children and could result in injuries, death, environmental issues, explosions  and fires.





No comments :

Post a Comment

Blogger Wordpress Gadgets
Animated Social Gadget - Blogger And Wordpress Tips