Over the past decade, vaping has become increasingly popular as a “healthier alternative to smoking.” Because of this, many people have switched out their cigarettes for an e-cigarette and others have picked up an e-cigarette without previously smoking cigarettes. Is this really a safer alternative to smoking though?
The research on e-cigarettes is limited and the majority of the research has been completed by the e-cigarette companies themselves. These companies have a conflict of interest and therefore, the research findings have inherent bias. Additionally, the long term effects on the lungs is unknown.
The FDA has recently been cracking down on the retailers for targeting youth as many e-liquid flavors resemble kid-friendly foods such as candy and cookies. E-cigarettes have become small enough to hide and some are even shaped like a USB so that they can be concealed. Middle and high schools have become commonplace for these devices. It has become too easy for students to have a nicotine high while at school with these devices being passed around school by peers. One report from the FDA states that E-cigarette use, from 2017 to 2018, increased 78 percent among high school students and 48 percent among middle school students.
These e-cigarettes have harmful chemicals in them such as nicotine, glycerol, propylene glycol, benzoic acid and other flavorants. The CDC states that using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.
The question now becomes how can we intervene? It is important to know the risks of both smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Have a conversation with your kids about the harmful effects of these devices. There are a lot of resources out there that can help with both educating yourself and learning how to quit. It is also a topic that you can bring up with your primary care physician or dentist if you have any other questions.
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