Use of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, among youth has skyrocketed in the last eight years. Today, more teenagers use e-cigarettes than adults. Moreover, there seems to be a lot of misinformation and confusion about these products. The bottom line is that e-cigarette use is not safe for any youth or for those who have never used tobacco products. The Ohio 4-H Health Heroes are taking on this topic to educate their peers and adults about the risks of e-cigarette use.
What are e-cigarettes?
E-Cigarette is short for electronic cigarette. E-cigarettes are devices that contain a battery, heating element, and e-liquid. The devices produce an aerosol from the e-liquid that a user inhales. The e-liquid can contain nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. E-cigarettes come in different shapes and sizes. Some resemble traditional cigarettes and pipes, while others can resemble USB sticks making it hard to identify. Other common names for e-cigarettes include “vape pens,” “vapes,” “e-cigs,” and “mods.” e-cigarettes are considered a tobacco product because the nicotine contained in the e-liquid is derived from tobacco.
What are the facts?
- According to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, it is estimated that 3.6 million high school and middle school students are using e-cigarettes.
- 1 in 20 (4.9%) middle school students and 1 in 5 (20.8%) high school students use e-cigarettes.
- Since 2011, the rate of current use of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students has more than tripled.
- E-cigarettes have surpassed traditional cigarettes as the most popular tobacco product.
- The majority of youth do not see great risk or harm from use of e-cigarettes.
- Youth who start out using e-cigarettes have a greater likelihood of progressing to traditional cigarette use.
- Vaping can lead to smoking regular cigarettes. It is 4 times more likely for e-cigarette users to start smoking regular cigarettes.
What is in e-cigarette aerosol?
It is a common misconception that the aerosol from e-cigarettes is just water vapor. In fact, e-cigarettes aerosol can contain the following harmful and potentially harmful substances:
- Nicotine – a highly addictive substance that can alter brain function in youth and young adults
- Ultrafine particles
- Flavorings such as diacetyl – a substance that can cause “popcorn lung,” a serious lung disease
- Volatile organic chemicals
- Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead
Why do teens use e-cigarettes?
- To experiment and see what it’s like
- Because it tastes good (flavors)
- To relax; to have a good time with friends
- To relieve tension or stress
- Because they’re bored and have nothing else to do
- Peer pressure
- Believe it’s more socially acceptable
- Believe it’s not harmful
What are the dangers of using e-cigarettes?
Nicotine has health effects on the developing brain including interruption of the growth of brain circuits that control attention, learning, and susceptibility to addiction to other drugs.
Risks of using nicotine include:
- Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders
- Nicotine addiction
- Difficulty paying attention and concentrating
- Reduced impulse control
Defective devices have been known to explode or cause fires causing serious injuries.
Chemicals, metals, and flavorings can cause serious damage to the lungs.
- CATCH My Breath (Coordinated Approach to Child Health)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Food & Drug Administration
- “The Real Cost” media campaign: https://therealcost.betobaccofree.hhs.gov/
- Don’t Get Hacked by Vaping: https://therealcost.betobaccofree.hhs.gov/gm/hacked-ends.html
- Videos (targeted to teens)
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Stanford University
- Tobacco Prevention Toolkit
- Surgeon General
- Video (targeted to parents)
- “Any Volunteers?” video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=30&v=JPnDkHBFDEo
- Truth Initiative
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