Vaping Becomes a Teen Epidemic
When e-cigarettes were first produced in 2003, they were seen as an alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes, without emitting the same type of tobacco smoke. E-cigarettes — also called e-vaporizers, e-cigs, e-hookahs or vapes — are battery operated and shaped like traditional cigarettes, cigars or even pens. To use an e-cigarette, you insert a cartridge that contains nicotine, other chemicals and perhaps other flavors. The heat source in the device is activated when you puff, and that vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge. You then inhale the vapor (hence, vaping).
The Dangerous New Trend in E-Cigarette Use
Unfortunately, there is little evidence to show that vaping actually helps you quit smoking. The American Heart Association says that adult smokers who used e-cigarettes were 28 percent less likely to quit smoking successfully.
Even more disturbing is the news that teens are increasingly picking up the e-cigarette habit. The FDA recently issued a statement calling the use of e-cigarettes by teens an epidemic. They also are requiring e-cigarette manufacturers to address the issue by revising sales and marketing programs so the products, with their fruity flavors, are less appealing to teenagers.
An Unhealthy Combination: Teens and E-Cigarettes
Although teens can’t legally buy e-cigarettes in stores or online, the use of e-cigs among high-school students increased 75 percent in 2018 compared to the preceding year.
The nicotine and other chemicals that are inhaled from e-cigarettes aren’t healthy for anyone, but for teens, they present additional concerns. A teen’s brain is still developing until the age of 25, and exposure to chemicals like nicotine can create long-term effects, including nicotine addiction, mood disorders, and lower impulse control. Nicotine affects the way the synapses in the brain work, which can affect attention and learning.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s website, e-cigarette use is strongly linked to the use of other tobacco products, including cigarettes, hookah, and smokeless tobacco. It’s also linked to alcohol and marijuana use. Most concerning, teens can get addicted faster than adults, and that addiction can prime a young brain for addictions to other drugs, such as cocaine.
Vaping is not a harmless habit, particularly for teenagers. We already know that the ingestion of chemicals such as nicotine are harmful to the body, but there may be even more effects that develop long-term. If you don’t currently vape, do not start, thinking that it is a safer, more socially acceptable way to smoke. If you do smoke e-cigarettes and feel you may be addicted, talk with your doctor about ways to quit.
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