The dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes have been highlighted through the Centers for Disease Control. E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes and may be designed to resemble everyday items, such as pens or USB flash drives. Most e-cigarettes have a battery, a heating element, and a place to hold a liquid. E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals.
According to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as 20 regular cigarettes. Nicotine is highly addictive and can impact development in the brain associated with attention, learning, mood and impulse control. While the vapor produced during the smoking process appears to be water, it has been determined that the aerosol that users breathe and then exhale can contain chemicals linked to serious lung disease, volatile organic compounds, chemicals linked to cancer and heavy metals. E-cigarettes can also be used to deliver THC and cannabinoid oils that pose additional risks for youth.
Information from the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 3.6 million youth reported current e-cigarette use through the National Youth Tobacco Study. E-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product for pre-adolescents and adolescents since 2014. The increase, approximately an additional 1.5 million youth between 2017 and 2018, may be associated with advertising in stores, the internet, print and television. Advertising to this population can minimize the impact of e-cigarettes on the youth’s health and development.
As a primary care provider, you can address vaping with both youth and their parents or caregivers. One way to dispel the information presented by companies selling vaping products is to educate children, adolescents and parents about the chemicals and other dangers associated with vaping. The Centers for Disease Control and the Surgeon General developed a healthcare provider conversation guide and a tip sheet for parents to address e-cigarette use.
There are also resources that can be given to youth to assist them in learning about e-cigarettes and to assist in quitting. Smokefree.gov is a website that provides adolescents with information and support to quit smoking or vaping. The website has free chat support and information for adolescents about triggers and how to handle stress without the use of nicotine or other harmful products. A second website for youth, thetruth.com, provides researched facts and information on the tobacco industry’s use of marketing to adolescents. The website provides youth with a way to become involved in social media and help advocate for their own heath in relation to smoking, vaping and the opioid crisis. For example, the site helps dispel the myth that safer does not mean safe when it comes to vaping