It looks like a flash drive and can be charged in a USB port, but it’s not a data storage device. Instead, it delivers high levels of nicotine, making the product extremely addictive. Vaping rates have surged among teens. In 2018, a national tobacco youth survey found that over 3.6 million middle school and high school students were using e-cigarettes, far surpassing the use of regular cigarettes. According to the US Surgeon General’s Office, 40 percent of young vapers had never smoked a cigarette. In a youth survey, 17% of youth said they vaped because they thought it was less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes.
Some may be wondering what vaping, disguised in various flavors from watermelon to chocolate, is all about. Here is the real talk.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports 2,290 cases of EVALI (e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury) and 47 deaths have occurred as a result of vaping. Recently, a double lung transplant was performed on a 16-year-old in Detroit due to irreversible damage caused from vaping. One doesn’t have to vape long to suffer from the symptoms of EVALI. These include cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea which can occur after a few days to several weeks of use. Recent CDC lab testing of lung fluid sample in EVALI found vitamin E acetate as the chemical of concern and it was found in all lung samples of vapers. THC was identified in 82% of the samples and nicotine was identified in 62% of the samples. Many of the liquids used in the vaping devices are sold on the street and have unknown harmful chemicals in them.
Vaping originally started as a way to help smokers quit cigarettes. However, studies show that it’s not the best smoking cessation tool. Most people who used the e-cigarettes to quit nicotine ended up continuing to smoke both traditional and e-cigarettes, according to John’s Hopkins Medicine. The lack of the stigmatized smoke smell and the flavored products has made vaping attractive to young adults. The problem with vaping is that those who would have never smoked are creating a harmful habit from vaping.
The reason why vaping is so dangerous for adolescents is that in teenagers, the control and reward centers of the brain are still developing. Therefore, young adults are more likely to become addicted than adults. Nicotine alters the function of nerve cells. It also raises blood pressure. Smoking harms close to every organ in the body, not just the lungs. It is particularly damaging to the heart.
When it comes to talking to your child about vaping, transparency is key. About 1 in 5 young adults between ages 18 to 38 uses e-cigarettes either daily or recreationally, according to American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The chances that your young adult child has been exposed either firsthand or secondhand is high.Ask your young adult if they know people who vape and the dangers it entails.
If you are planning a trip to India, better leave that vape at home. In September of 2019, India, the second largest smoking population in the world, banned e-cigarettes as a preventative measure. Although bans on vaping have been promised in the United States, the policymaking process has been delayed due to industry pressure.
Take it to heart: there is no safe tobacco product; this includes vaping, hookah, and cigarettes. As college kids are coming home for the holidays, consider this an opportunity to have an open discussion about vaping. With those New Year’s resolutions around the corner, evade EVALI. Your family’s hearts and lungs will thank you.
An e-cigarette quitting program can be accessed by texting “DITCHJUUL” to 88709. If you’re looking to help young people quit, text “QUIT” to (202) 899-7550.