A huge new e-cigarette finding casts a rather dark light on what many had hailed was a good change from a world that had become addicted to cigarettes.
The flight from cigarettes to vaping through electronic cigarettes may seem like a good thing, but not according to the Surgeon General of the United States, who is sounding the alarm on rapidly increasing rates of vaping among young adults on something that hasn’t been verified as safe.
Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy called it a “major public health concern,” and certainly doesn’t seem to be a cheerleader of the migration from traditional cigarettes to vaping, which has been hailed as a safer alternative to tobacco despite the fact that research doesn’t necessarily back this claim up.
Murthy is calling for way more research into their safety. E-cigarettes have eclipsed traditional cigarettes as of 2014 as the most common form of tobacco use among youth in the United States. This despite the fact that there is precious little research on the issue.
The trend is alarming: the number of middle and high school students who are vaping has triple within the last five years, and for those between the ages of 18 and 24, it’s doubled. Considering that people seem to think that e-cigarettes aren’t harmful, that’s a concern.
The Surgeon General says the following about vaping and e-cigarettes on its website.
E-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid usually has nicotine and flavoring in it, and other additives. The nicotine in e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes is addictive. E-cigarettes are considered tobacco products because most of them contain nicotine, which comes from tobacco.
Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including: ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease volatile organic compounds
heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and leade cigarettes are also commonly calledleft arrowright arrowe-cigs, mods, tank systems, e-hookahs, vape pensthree black and white illustrations of e-cigaretteschevron down
Adolescent years are times of important brain development. Brain development begins during the growth of the fetus in the womb and continues through childhood and to about age 25. Nicotine exposure during adolescence and young adulthood can cause addiction and harm the developing brain.
Drawing of a brain with energy bolts radiating from it Nicotine affects brain development, which continues to age 25.
E-cigarettes are very popular with young people. Their use has grown dramatically in the last five years. Today, more high school students use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. The use of e-cigarettes is higher among high school students than adults.
“We know enough right now to say that youth and young adults should not be using e-cigarettes or any other tobacco product, for that matter,” Murthy said according to the Post. “The key bottom line here is that the science tells us the use of nicotine-containing products by youth, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe.”
No matter how it’s delivered, nicotine is harmful for youth and young adults. E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine as well as other chemicals that are known to damage health. For example, users risk exposing their respiratory systems to potentially harmful chemicals in e-cigarettes. Read about these and other risks young people face if they use e-cigarettes.
You can influence your children’s decision about whether to use e-cigarettes. Even if you have used tobacco yourself, your children will listen if you discuss your struggles with nicotine addiction. Be clear that you don’t approve of them smoking or using e-cigarettes, and that you expect them to live tobacco-free.
Use CDC’s Parent Tip Sheet to help you talk with your children. This tip sheet offers facts and practical ways to start conversations with young people about the risks of e-cigarette use.