• Dr. Arlether Wilson

The Hidden Dangers of Teen Vaping

Most consumers are unaware of the potential risks of vaping. Researchers suggest that vaping was meant to be used as a cessation method for people seeking to quit regular cigarettes. Today, many e-cigarette advertisements claim that vaping is a healthier solution. Yet, tobacco companies appear oblivious of any future health consequences. Contrary to what is being promoted, vaping in any form may be harmful to bystanders and the environment. Research revealed that the fumes from vaping devices contain carcinogens and other harmful chemicals that may contribute to the development of various cancers. In fact, not all, but most e-cigarettes (vape pens, e-hookahs, etc.) contain nicotine, which makes smoking them addictive.

According to the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, there are currently no regulations on e-cigarettes, which have become a billion dollar business. The lack of regulations allowed teens to easily access vaping products. Since e-cigarettes have arrived on the market, the increase in e-cigarette uses by youth has reached epidemic status. A recent Surgeon General’s report revealed a 900% increase in e-cigarette use among adolescents since the products became available in United States in 2007. Today more than 3.6 million middle school and high school students are consuming e-cigarette products.

E-cigarette manufacturers deliberately create products in colorful and flavorful packaging to entice young people. These suppliers have also marketed products that make it easy to conceal their use. One of the most popular e-cigarette among teen users is called “JUUL.” This device is shaped like a USB flash drive, and allows teens to secretly consume products at home and even at school. The teen simply inserts a pod, which often contains as much nicotine as a pack of regular cigarettes. Another issue often seen in my practice is teens and young adults using THC oil in their vaping devices. Unfortunately, many teens vape marijuana and other nicotine products and are able to do so without being detected.

The Surgeon General reported that any length of time young people invest in vaping is detrimental to their health. Researchers agree that the human brain continues to develop until age 25, and vaping may negatively impact the health of these young consumers. Additionally, proponents are concerned that many youth may eventually smoke regular cigarettes or experiment with other illicit substances.

As a precaution, the Surgeon General has initiated a national Campaign to inform parents and their children about the harmful effects of vaping. However, in order to fully combat this issue everyone’s support is necessary. Families, teachers, community leaders and healthcare providers also have an important role to play. There are numerous resources available to help us in our quest. You can start by downloading the Surgeon General’s tip sheet for parents, Talk With Your Teen About E-cigarettes, at https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/.

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