Students Working Against Tobacco Tackle Disposable E-cigarettes on Not A Lab Rat Day

Key West, Fla. —The third annual Not A Lab Rat Day is taking place on Wednesday, October 21 and Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) is educating about the potential dangers of disposable e-cigarettes. SWAT, Florida’s youth-led movement to combat the tobacco and e-cigarette industries, is encouraging their peers to protect themselves and future generations from nicotine addiction by fighting back against these industries.

Since its inception, Not A Lab Rat Day has empowered youth statewide to stand up and declare that they refuse to be Big Tobacco’s “lab rats” as we discover the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes.

Alyssa Cerkleski, SWAT advisor at Key West High School states, “JUUL is not cool! Big tobacco should be ashamed to use our children for profit and for taking advantage of the naivety of our youth. The e-cigarette companies continue to

manipulate our youth with flavors that may appeal to them and impose other scheming tactics.”

Disposable e-cigarettes like Puff Bars, Stig, Smok and HQD are not covered under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) flavor policy since they are not cartridge or pod- based.1 However, the FDA sent warning letters to several disposable e-cigarette makers, Puff Bars being one, demanding they remove their products from the market. Disposable e-cigarettes come in bright colored packaging and kid-appealing flavors including Sour Apple, Banana Ice, and O.M.G. (Orange, Mango, Guava).2 These new e- cigarettes have a similar sleek design as JUUL, but they are designed for one-time use. JUUL’s flavored pods have been pulled from the market, but new flavored products like Puff Bars, Stig, Smok and HQD are becoming popular among youth and taking JUUL’s spotlight.

The e-cigarette industry continues to disregard the best interest of communities by manipulating product design to get around FDA regulations. In Florida, 25.6 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes, in 2019.3

This Not a Lab Rat Day, SWAT members, including those at Key West High School, will encourage youth and young adults to educate and become familiar with the dangers of disposable e-cigarettes and talk to others in the community about these products to help push for change.