The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently issued an advisory for people. Specifically geared towards children and teens, the CDC advises to avoid e-cigarettes while officials from the state and federal level investigate the outbreak of severe respiratory illnesses linked to the use of vaping, or e-cigarette, products. It’s important for parents and caregivers to understand the dangers of vaping and tobacco use.
What is vaping?
Vaping is the “act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device.” The term “vaping” is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol consisting of fine particles and potentially harmful chemicals, often mistaken for water vapor.
What’s the difference between vaping and JUULing?
JUUL is a specific brand of e-cigarette devices that is especially popular among teens and young adults. JUUL has become so popular among children due to it’s “sleek and discreet design, its ability to be recharged on a laptop or wall charger within one hour, and its liquid-filled cartridges that come in flavors like cool mint, creme brulee, and fruit medley.” It’s so popular that it accounts for about 68% of the $2 billion e-cigarette market and is the top-selling e-cigarette brand in the U.S.
According to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod can contain as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.
Approximately two-thirds of JUUL users aged 15-24 reported not knowing that JUUL always contains nicotine.
What are the dangers of vaping?
Vaping is a relatively new practice and researchers still don’t know the long term effects it can have on children or adults. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine which is highly addictive and detrimental to adolescent brain development. A recent CDC study discovered that 99% of e-cigarettes sold in the United States contained nicotine.
According to the CDC, “Some e-cigarette labels do not disclose that they contain nicotine, and some e-cigarettes marketed as containing 0% nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.” Adolescent nicotine use may increase the risk of future addiction to other tobacco products or drugs.
E-cigarettes contain aerosol that users inhale from the device and exhale can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including:
- Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
- Flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease
- Volatile organic compounds
- Cancer-causing chemicals
- Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead
E-cigarette products are being specifically marketed to children and teens using the same tactics used by the tobacco industry.
How many kids are vaping?
Kids and teens believe vaping is less harmful than conventional cigarettes. While e-cigarettes may be less harmful than conventional cigarettes for adults, consumption of nicotine is dangerous for all children and adolescents.
But, despite the warnings–
- In 2018, CDC and FDA data showed that 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students had used e-cigarettes in the last month
- During 2017 and 2018, e-cigarette use skyrocketed among youth, leading the U.S. Surgeon General to call the use of these products among youth an epidemic in the United States.
What can you do as a parent?
Parents and caregivers have an important role in safeguarding children from e-cigarettes and nicotine use.
- Set a good example by not using tobacco products yourself
- Talk to you children about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping
- We know it can be hard hearing “no” from a parent. Making an appointment with your child’s pediatrician so they can hear just how dangerous tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, are from a medical professional.