Consumer Alert: The new threat to your child — his highlighter

The beginning of a new school year is just around the corner, and authorities are warning parents and teachers to be on the lookout for highlighters. And these are not ordinary highlighters. They look exactly like the highlighter that’s likely in your child’s backpack. That makes these vapes easy to hide from Mom, Dad and school administrators.

They’re being manufactured in China. Parents should look for a device that looks exactly like a highlighter, but the bottom has an opening, and the tip is actually the mouthpiece.

It took me only seconds to find a website selling them. Not surprisingly, these vapes are called “high light,” and the manufacturer is based in Shenzhen, China. They come in 20 kid-friendly fruity flavors like mango, blueberry ice and strawberry banana. Each vape cartridge has the nicotine equivalent of more than two packs of cigarettes. I contacted the company by email. As of Tuesday evening, no one had responded.

According to the CDC, almost 2.6 million teenagers were hooked on e-cigs last year. That reverses a downward trend we’ve seen in recent years. And the average age a kiddo starts vaping is 13. Besides the fact that nicotine is highly addictive, vaping harms children’s brains and lungs and causes oral cancers.

It’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy vapes, and because it’s impossible to verify the buyer’s age online, New York and other states have banned online sales. It’s also illegal to sell flavored e-cigs in New York.

In 2020, New York Attorney General Letitia James sent cease and desist letters to three companies that she says were selling flavored vapes online to New Yorkers. The companies. Cloud X Vape, HDQ Tech USA and Podvapes, got cease and desist letters ordering them not to sell their products in New York.

So, I wanted to know if those companies are still selling here. I found that when I typed a New York shipping address, none of the three would ship to me. But just how successful would a cease-and-desist letter be against a company operating in Shenzhen, China? That, I don’t know. I do know that right now, the onus is on us, as parents, to keep an eye on our children’s highlighters.