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Danger! Danger! Red Light Flashing!!

African Americans, surely not in need of another method of taking us out of here, are again helping the Scythe-Man. We are already the largest proportionate population of lung cancer victims in this country caused by smoking. Yet, we keep lighting up, particularly to the smell and taste of the menthol, our favorite brand.

The tobacco industry, long-since thought dead by some people, is instead very much alive and apparently creatively thriving. The industry’s go-to population has been and continues to be African Americans. A large portion of our current American population seems to shun tobacco and chase the weed in court, but oh no, not Black folk. Much tobacco advertising is market targeted to the Black masses. A lot of tobacco industry money is put into corporate sponsorships of conferences, tournaments, festivals and other gatherings arranged and coordinated by Black folk, sometimes for very worthy causes. We’re generally tobacco-friends, not tobacco-enemies. One can easily find, of course, Black critics and naysayers among various Black populations in the country, but overall, we’re a big plus for tobacco companies, lung cancer and all.

Now comes vaping (e-cigarettes), marketed as a safe alternative to regular cigarettes and cigars. But it’s a ruse. Vaping (vaporizing), with all of its 7,000 combinations of flavors, colors, tastes and trendiness, is rapidly growing another whole generation of smokers. And vaping is not safe at all.

Youngsters 8, 9, 10-13 are daily trying the vaping puffs. They say it makes them feel lit, peaceful and less nervous. They feel they are with it, whatever that means today. Tastes like sweet fruit, candy, mango, cherry pie, and the old favorite, menthol, easily attract young people; and the newest version, Juul, is so easy to use that students sometimes light up in class and are not caught. The vapors instantly disappear, and the smells can be mistaken for hair oil or body lotion.

Juuling is hyped on social media every day, and there are hundreds, even thousands of photos of youth styling and looking cool vaping Juuls. One of the distinctive elements of Juuls is that they are so small. They are often made to resemble flash drives that can have stickers and art on them. They are especially appealing to tech-savvy youth.

The major problem with Juuls, however, is that each pod put into the device and puffed, gives the user the equivalent of 200 puffs of a very intense and addictive nicotine (the equivalence of a full regular pack of cigarettes). Juuls works wonders as a taste-good youth gateway to full-scale nicotine addiction and an unbreakable tobacco habit.

Scientific studies have lately shown that nicotine mixes easily with melanin and grows rapidly into a craving among African Americans that one cannot easily get rid of or quell.  Next comes increased lung cancer, heart disease and strokes for Black folks.

Mothers and fathers, stop your kids right now from the Juul madness, and other e-cigarette traps. Early intervention now will help your children live longer and at least have the possibilities of decent, productive lives.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.