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Not A Lab Rat Day Exposes How History is Repeating Itself When It Comes to Vaping

By FDOH-Escmbia

October 14, 2019

Pensacola, Fla. — The second annual Not A Lab Rat Day is Wednesday, Oct. 16. This year, Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) wants other teens to know that when it to comes to e-cigarettes, aka “vaping” products, history is repeating itself.

E-cigarette companies use the same tricks, including flavors and marketing campaigns, tobacco companies used for decades to target and recruit young smokers.[i] Not a surprise considering Big Tobacco companies own or have significantly invested in e-cigarette companies.[ii],[iii] These are the same tobacco companies that for decades lied about the addictiveness and health effects of cigarettes.[iv] 

SWAT is Florida’s youth-led movement to combat Big Tobacco. Not A Lab Rat Day is a statewide initiative that empowers youth to stand up and declare that they refuse to be the tobacco and e-cigarette industry’s “lab rats” as we wait and see the long-term health effects of vaping. 

SWAT chapters across the state are holding events at their schools and in their communities to dispel myths and educate their peers about the e-cigarette industry’s connection to Big Tobacco. In Escambia County, the SWAT chapter will create interactive faux laboratories. The labs will allow students to dress as scientists and run through facts about the tobacco industry and their product testing strategies or lack thereof. Items will be labeled with names of some of the harmful chemicals present in tobacco products. 

Here are the facts:

  • Marlboro cigarette maker Altria purchased a 35% stake in JUUL for $12.8 billion in December 2018.[v]
  • Imperial Brands, the makers of Winston and Kool, owns the e-cigarette brand Blu.[vi]
  • RJ. Reynolds (RJR), the makers of Newport and Camel, owns the e-cigarette brand Vuse.[vii] 

“We do not know what Big Tobacco’s involvement means for the future of e-cigarettes. But we do know Big Tobacco cannot be trusted,” said Dr. Angel Bradley, Youth and Young Adult Coordinator for TFF-Escambia. “That’s why we’re sharing the facts and standing up to the tobacco industry." 

Youth vaping has increased dramatically across the country, including right here in Escambia County. E-cigarette companies claim their products are intended for adults, but alarming rates among teens tell a different story. About 25% of Florida high school students are vaping[viii] compared to 4% of Florida adults.[ix]

 

Participants in Not A Lab Rat Day events will complete placards stating that they will not be “lab rats.” SWAT plans to send placards collected statewide to the headquarters of major e-cigarette companies. 

For more information, visit swatflorida.com/not-a-lab-rat/

About Not A Lab Rat Day 

Not A Lab Rat Day will be observed annually on the third Wednesday of October to bring awareness to e-cigarette use among youth, encourage youth to stand up against Big Tobacco and the e-cigarette industry, and to push for change within their communities. 

About Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) 

SWAT is Florida’s statewide youth organization working to mobilize, educate and equip Florida youth to revolt against and de-glamorize Big Tobacco and the e-cigarette industry. SWAT is a united movement of empowered youth working towards a tobacco free future. 

To learn more about Students Working Against Tobacco, visit www.swatflorida.com or follow us on Instagram at @swatflorida

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[i] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General—Executive Summary. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2016.

[ii] Kirkham, Chris. "Altria to Buy $12.8 Billion Minority Stake in E-cigarette Company Juul." Reuters. 20 Dec. 2018. www.reuters.com/article/us-juul-altriagroup-m-a/altria-to-buy-12-8-billion-minority-stake-in-e-cigarette-company-juul-idUSKCN1OJ1JS (Accessed 27 Aug  2019)

[iii] Kirkham, Chris. “Special Report: Juul copycats flood e-cig market, despite FDA rule.” Reuters. 24 Sept. 2018. www.reuters.com/article/us-vaping-regulation-juul-specialreport/special-report-juul-copycats-flood-e-cig-market-despite-fda-rule-idUSKCN1M418W (Accessed 27 Aug 2019)

[iv] USA V. Philip Morris USA, Inc., et al., No. 99-CV-02496GK (U.S. Dist. Ct., D.C.), Final Opinion, August 17, 2006.

[v] Kirkham, Chris. "Altria to Buy $12.8 Billion Minority Stake in E-cigarette Company Juul." Reuters. 20 Dec. 2018. www.reuters.com/article/us-juul-altriagroup-m-a/altria-to-buy-12-8-billion-minority-stake-in-e-cigarette-company-juul-idUSKCN1OJ1JS (Accessed 27 Aug 2019)

[vi] Kirkham, Chris. “Special Report: Juul copycats flood e-cig market, despite FDA rule.” Reuters. 24 Sept. 2018. www.reuters.com/article/us-vaping-regulation-juul-specialreport/special-report-juul-copycats-flood-e-cig-market-despite-fda-rule-idUSKCN1M418W (Access 27 Aug 2019)

[vii] Kirkham, Chris. “Special Report: Juul copycats flood e-cig market, despite FDA rule.” Reuters. 24 Sept. 2018. www.reuters.com/article/us-vaping-regulation-juul-specialreport/special-report-juul-copycats-flood-e-cig-market-despite-fda-rule-idUSKCN1M418W (Access 27 Aug 2019)

[viii] Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS), Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology, 2019.

[ix] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. BRFSS Prevalence & Trends Data [online]. 2017. [accessed Aug 28, 2019]. URL: https://www.cdc.gov/brfss/brfssprevalence/.