(PRNewswire) — Truth Initiative®, through its truth youth smoking prevention campaign, is directly confronting the role e-cigarette manufacturers have played in fueling the youth vaping epidemic through a new campaign launching during the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) on Aug. 26.
The campaign, titled “Tested on Humans,” highlights how little is known about the long-term effects of e-cigarettes which are still unregulated, exposing an entire generation to the risk of nicotine addiction.
Just as humans speak out when companies test their products on animals, “Tested on Humans” features “King of Pop Culture” Doug the Pug and other animals speaking out in interactive broadcast and digital content to warn e-cigarette manufacturers not to test a product with unknown effects on humans.
WMPDT Editor Note: If you’re not familiar with Doug the Pug, you can check out some of his work in this video compilation below:
Other famed pets will post their own protest pictures in the days following the VMAs using truth Instagram stickers to dress up in protest gear and the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans to show their support.
The campaign aims to address misconceptions about e-cigarettes and give young people, whose e-cigarette use has sharply increased in just one year alone, the facts and information needed to make informed decisions about the products.
“e-cigarette manufacturers are targeting and recruiting a new generation, most of whom didn’t smoke prior, putting their future health at great risk and treating them like lab rats while becoming fat cats, raking in billions of dollars,” said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative, the national public health organization that directs and funds the truth campaign.
Those who want to help their pet join the protest encouraged to share their pet’s picture with truth Instagram stickers and the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Every pos offers pets — and their humans — the chance to win free human testing protest merchandise from truth.
Luka Kinard, a former teen vaper turned truth Finisher, meaning he enlisted with the campaign to share his story, hopes that it will inspire and help other young vapers looking to quit. He will also join Doug the Pug to share the Tested on Humans message throughout New York City the day of the awards show.
“I thought JUULing was safer, and even healthier, than other tobacco products,” said Kinard. “But really, I had no idea what I was putting in my body. It shouldn’t take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don’t know.”
The Youth E-Cigarette Epidemic
Despite decades of progress in reducing youth cigarette smoking, rates of e-cigarette usage among high-school and middle-school-aged children have exploded. With a 78% increase in use among high school students1 and a 48% increase among middle school students from 2017 to 2018,2 the U.S. surgeon general has officially recognized youth vaping as a widespread epidemic.3
While e-cigarettes could play a role in helping some adults quit smoking completely, few adult users use vaping for that purpose.4 Additionally, Truth Initiative research shows that teens are 16 times more likely to use these products than adults ages 25-34.5 Research also shows that young people who vape are four times more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes.6 These products’ increasing popularity with teens, along with their influence on teen smoking, is on track to addict a new generation of non-smokers to nicotine.
“We know more about what’s in a bag of potato chips than what’s in an e-cigarette,” said Koval “Not only does the Food and Drug Administration need to step up and do its job to stop this growing epidemic, but the e-cigarette industry must comply with the regulatory process that every other food and drug goes through instead of fighting it at every turn.”
In January 2019, truth also debuted a first-of-its-kind text messaging program based on youth input called “This is Quitting,” which offers free, anonymous resources for young people who want to quit vaping.
For more information on e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com. For help with quitting vaping, visit thetruth.com/quit or text “DITCHJUUL” to 88709 for free resources.
truth is part of Truth Initiative, a national public health organization dedicated to achieving a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco. To learn more about Truth Initiative, visit truthinitiative.org.