According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), e-cigarette use isn’t just up among adults, but it has also tripled in usage for teens. Dr. Jose Cucalon Calderon, a Pediatrics Physician at Renown Health and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, provides helpful insight into e-cigarettes and the dangers it poses to kids and teens. What Are E-Cigarettes? E-cigarettes are electronic nicotine delivery devices. e-cigarettes use liquid nicotine as an alternative to traditional smoked cigarettes. e-cigarettes contain nicotine which is an addictive substance with known toxic side effects that, when released in very high doses, that can have health consequences and causes addiction. Nicotine is described as “toxic,” but the most "toxic" part of e-cigarettes' is everything else within the E-juice. Nicotine mainly keeps people coming back for more. According to the CDC, e-cigarettes are also advertised using the same themes and tactics that have been shown to increase youth use of other tobacco products, including cigarettes. In 2021, approximately 76% of students reported exposure to tobacco product marketing through traditional sources, and approximately 74% of students who used social media had seen e-cigarette–related content. What Does This Mean for the Health My Teen? We know that nicotine can affect brain development in kids and teens, so it is important to educate your teen on the risks of exposure. If you have young children in the home, it is important to be vigilant as well. One teaspoonful of liquid nicotine can be fatal for a young child. How Do I Monitor My Teen for E-Cigarette Use? Monitoring your children can be tricky for parents. E-cigarettes can be harder to detect, unlike traditional cigarettes that were easy to detect by smell and residual odor. E-cigarette use, or “vaping,” is often associated with a dry cough or chronic throat/mouth irritation. Overall, increasing research shows strong links between mental health conditions and posterior combustible tobacco use along with increased risk of marijuana use. Nicotine is addictive, but it does not cause altered mental status like the other drugs of abuse can. All parents are strongly encouraged to talk to their children about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes. What are the health risks of vaping? Vaping devices have been on the market for a relatively short period of time, with evidence-based health effects and complications still being discovered. Vaping effects poses many harmful risks to children and teens. The risks of vaping include: Chest pain Difficulty breathing Dizziness Headaches Impaired response to infection in the airway Inflammatory problems of the airway Nausea Nicotine addiction Seizures Vomiting For more information for both parents and teens about quitting smoking or vaping, you can click here. Parents can also use this tip sheet from the U.S. Surgeon General to talk to their child about vaping. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration free national helpline number is 1-800-662-4357 (HELP). It is available 24/7, 365 days a year offering confidential treatment referral and information (in English and Spanish). If you or someone you know is facing a substance (or mental health) problem, please reach out to them.
In this article reprinted with permission from the Galena Times, Dr. Max J Coppes, Physician-in-Chief, Renown Children’s Hospital, and Nell J. Redfield, Chair of Pediatrics, UNR Med, talk about adolescents vaping, and how an estimated additional 10 million teens are at risk to start using e-cigarettes. What are E-cigarettes? E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices heating a liquid (e-juice) into an aerosol to be inhaled. Breathing in this flavor vapor, which usually contains nicotine, anti-freeze or other cancer-causing chemicals is called ‘vaping.’ There are many forms of these electronic nicotine delivery devices - and they're not always obvious. They not only appear to be cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, but also pass for everyday items, such as flashlights, flash drives or pens. The Effects of Vaping and E-cigarettes Regardless of the nicotine delivery, vaping is addictive and is quickly becoming a public health concern. Nicotine levels in e-cigarettes vary greatly, and they may also contain toxic chemicals. Currently there is a wide range of variability among vaping products. In other words - they deliver different ingredients, hardware, levels of nicotine, and possible toxic chemicals to the user. This makes it challenging to create an overall public health recommendation on their use. Nevertheless, there is no confusion about the harmful effects of the chemicals used in e-cigarettes to the young brain, which develops until age 25. Studies show e-cigarette use serves as an introductory product for teens to go on using ‘regular’ tobacco products. The American Academy of Pediatrics has several recommendations on their use. Such as increasing the minimum age to buy tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to age 21 nationwide. (Update: nationwide the age as of January 2, 2020 is now 21.) A common misunderstanding with teenagers is the belief e-cigarettes are less harmful than other tobacco products. Moreover, there is a wide range of flavor choices, from mint, mango, crème brûlée to cucumber to attract users. As of September 6, 2019, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting over 450 possible cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarette products in 33 states. What Should Parents Know about Vaping? Parents and teachers should know JUUL is a very popular e-cigarette among teenagers, capturing about 68% of the market. JUUL is sleek, small, hides easily, and resembles a flash drive. Surprisingly it charges in an USB port, and can also instantly be mistaken for a real flash drive. One JUUL cartridge contains twice the nicotine found in other e-cigarette cartridges. This roughly equals the amount of nicotine in an entire pack of cigarettes. To repeat, the use of JUUL in young people continues to grow, and this is why parents and teachers need to be aware. Be alert, teach, communicate, and talk to your child about the serious risks of smoking in all forms, whether at home or parties. Tell them how difficult it is to quit and why they should not start. Loving your children is caring; caring for their current and future health and well-being.