Local professor argues e-cigarette companies are targeting youth and social media is assisting in advertisement

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Teen vaping is on the rise. Matthew Carpenter, a Clinical Psychologist and Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina said companies like Juul clearly target the youth market.

“And let’s face it, these are very tech-savvy devices in a very tech-savvy population,” Doctor Carpenter said. “It’s a sort of a perfect storm.”

Noting social media also plays a role in advertising.

“We know that in the case of many of these devices,” Doctor Carpenter said. “And in juuls particularly, a lot of the usage has been driven by social media, so kids tweeting about their experiences.”

Doctor Carpenter said studies show e-cigarette users compared to non-users are now three times more likely to eventually turn to cigarettes. He said while smoking cigarettes is down in numbers for youth it doesn’t mean teen smoking is down.

“But if we are replacing that with an up-tick of another device which again is less harmful than cigarette smoking but not harmless, then we might be just replacing one addiction for another,” said Doctor Carpenter.

An addiction that is now causing schools to ban the devices completely.

“What starts out as occasional use can very quickly escalate into protracted use to the point where kids go into the bathrooms at school,” Doctor Carpenter said. “We’ve heard reports of people using them in the classroom, because many of these devices are discreet.”

He notes the real problem is nicotine addiction.

“And of course, it’s not just e-cigarettes,” Doctor Carpenter said. “They’re vaping other substances, THC, CBD and other things in these e-devices. So there are lots of devices with lots of substances that youth are using.”

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