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Lest You Think Vaping is Healthier...

While the use of cigarettes is declining the use of e-cigarettes is rapidly increasing. Vaping is becoming an “off-ramp” for older cigarette smokers, but an ‘on-ramp” for our youth, many of whom do not even know that e-cigarettes contain nicotine as made evident in the documentary on Teens and Vaping on the Netflix series “Broken: “Big Vape”.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there has been in recent years an outbreak of e-cigarette use associated with lung injury, and THC acquired from online and in-person dealers is the main culprit along with vitamin E acetate. As of February of 2020 there have been 68 deaths included in the 2800 hospitalizations across the U.S.

E-cigarettes are the most commonly used by our youth, The number of middle and high school students that use e-cigarettes in the US growing too rapidly: in 2020 middle schoolers rose to 4.7% and high schoolers just under 20% compared to around 4.5% of adults, but recently it has been reported the number of highschoolers is now 40%.

The e-cigarette aerosols that users inhale and exhale contain harmful and potentially harmful substances: nicotine,ultrafine particles, flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical associated with serious lung disease, volatile organic compounds, cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, manganese and lead. Some companies mislead consumers from knowing what is actually contained in their products. For example, while some products are marked as containing no nicotine, they were nevertheless found to contain it.

The primary substance for which e-cigarettes are designed to deliver is nicotine which is highly addictive and damaging to the critical time of adolescent and young adult brain development, and is toxic to developing fetuses. Nicotine reshapes the receptors in the brain. Did you know it is used as an insecticide? Both children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing, or absorbing the liquid from e-cigarettes through the skin or eyes. E-cigarettes can be used to deliver marijuana and other drugs. So parents, beware!

Manufacturers of e-cigarettes are all the more pernicious as teens are highly susceptible to the immediate gratification of the attractively designed pods with flavors such as, Cotton Candy, Pink spot, and Frozen Lime Drop. The new lingo is, “Rip a pearl, Rip a Juul, Zeroing the hit” The primary e-cigarette manufacturer, Juul, just settled a lawsuit where they were found to be guilty of marketing to teens to the tune of $40 million. Juul figured out how to deliver the high nicotine hit to the brain that are similar to what cigarettes bring. Their products are made to look like pens and USB sticks, and are easily undetectedby adults. Do you think these combined factors have anything to do with why their products are so popular?

Most young people are not not interested in stopping. My observations inform me they just don’t get it, yet! But why should they be any different than their parents and myself? We older folks needed to do our own experimenting before we realized what a trap smoking and vaping proved to be. Now that we know the truth, we can maintain our compassion and acceptance of our youth, and be ready to support them when they ask for help. In the meantime we can warn our younger ones not to “get hacked” by vaping.

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