Many young people don't see the harm in vaping—and that's a big problem.
The current vaping-related lung injury outbreak in the US demonstrates that there is a lot more to learn about the short- and long-term impact of e-cigarette use. E-cigarettes are never safe for youth and young adults. Until more is known about the cause of this outbreak, strongly advise anyone who is vaping, dabbing or using e-cigarette products to quit using these products – particularly those containing THC. Direct young patients who want to stop using marijuana and need help to call 2-1-1 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday) or go to healthvermont.gov/find-treatment to find treatment options.
By understanding the allure of vaping to teens and young adults, you can advise young patients about their risks and treatment options. We can help you have those conversations.
What do you know about vaping?
Vaping devices have many names: vape pens, pod mods, tanks, e-hookahs, JUUL and e-cigarettes. The liquids they contain can be called e-juice, e-liquid, vape juice, cartridges or pods. Most vape liquids contain a combination of glycerin and nicotine or flavoring chemicals to produce common or outlandish flavors, from mint to “unicorn puke.” Batteries power a heating element that aerosolizes the liquid. The aerosol is inhaled by the user.
Since 2014 e-cigarettes have been the most common type of tobacco product used by Vermont youth. Unfortunately, e-cigarettes can be used to deliver marijuana and other drugs. In 2015, one-third of US middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes with non-nicotine substances. See Prevalence of Cannabis Use in Electronic Cigarettes Among US Youth.
Shifts in social acceptability and access to marijuana create opportunities for youth to experiment despite being illegal in Vermont.
Youth Vaping Resources
VDH Health Advisory 9/16/19: First Case of Severe Vaping-associated Pulmonary Injury Confirmed.
CDC Official Health Advisory 8/30/19: Severe Pulmonary Disease Associated with Using E-Cigarette Products.
VDH Healthy Advisory 8/29/19: Severe Vaping-associated Pulmonary Injury.
TALKING WITH YOUR YOUNG PATIENTS
Your young patients get erroneous information from all kinds of dubious sources, including friends and e-cigarette manufacturer advertising. You can help set them straight with facts about vaping.
The reality: Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine
- E-cigarette ingredients aren’t always labeled correctly. They aren’t tested for safety either.
- Nicotine is common in most e-cigarettes. Popular brands of e-cigarettes, like JUUL, contain doses of nicotine that can exceed a pack of cigarettes.
- Nicotine can permanently change the developing brain and impact youth wellbeing, study habits, anxiety levels and learning.
- Nicotine is very addictive and may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.
- Becoming addicted to nicotine is like losing freedom of choice.
The reality: Aerosol from vaping is more than water vapor
- Liquids used in vapes are filled with a variety of chemicals like nicotine and flavoring agents; we often don’t know what else is in there. There isn’t required testing by the FDA.
- Besides delivering nicotine, which is addictive and toxic, heavy metals from the heating coil and fine chemical particles have been found in the aerosol. They can cause respiratory disease.
- Nickel, tin and aluminum can be in e-cigarettes and end up in the lungs.
- Chemicals that are known to cause cancer can also be present in e-cigarette aerosol.
The reality: Flavors contain chemicals
- E-cigarette manufacturers add chemical flavoring to appeal to first-time users — especially teenagers.
- Nicotine-free e-cigarettes are not regulated. The chemicals that create flavors, like candy, cake and cinnamon roll, can be toxic to the body’s cells.
- If you vape, you’re 4 times more likely to start smoking cigarettes.
Studies show that youth, like my son, have no clue what's in these products most of the time.Jerome AdamsUS Surgeon General