04 Nov Vapes come in many flavors but all are dangerous!
By: Dr. Joshua Levin
Mango, vanilla, cinnamon, and cherry… these may sound like the delicious offerings of a candy store. However, this list is not from a
candy store; rather, they are some of the many flavors of nicotine that are attracting people to use electronic cigarettes (“e-cigs”). Indeed, the use of e-cigs and vaping devices have sky-rocketed in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), the use of these products jumped 78% among high schoolers from 2017 to 2018. Use has become rampant as young as 12 years old, and last year alone, more than 3.6 million middle school and high school students used e-cigarettes.
Also known as vapes, JUULs, vape pens, mods and tanks, these products are small, often the size of a flash drive. They can be easily concealed and are also smokeless, allowing them to be used without detection. Given the size, smell, and taste, they are optimally geared towards our youth (despite denials of this claim). For the younger generation, vaping has increasingly become a social norm.
E-cigarettes work by heating a small amount of liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs. The liquid may contain a variety of compounds, including: nicotine, cannabinoid (CBD) oils, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and other additives. THC is the psychoactive mind-altering compound of marijuana that produces the “high”.
Vaping holds significant health consequences, and these concerns are growing at an alarming rate. The high levels of nicotine is a well-known issue; these products are incredibly addictive. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to the effects of nicotine, and their developing brains are especially prone to addiction. Also, the latest research shows that these chemicals can cause significant lung damage, especially when THC is involved. This damage can be permanent, severe, and even deadly. Throughout the country, increasingly large numbers of patients, including teens and young adults, have been hospitalized due to vape-related disease. Many have landed in the Intensive Care Units, with a number requiring ventilators to help them breathe.
As of October 1, 2019, there have been 1,080 reported cases of lung injury associated with vaping in 48 different states. Of those cases, there have been 18 confirmed deaths. It is suspected that these numbers are low, and the actual numbers are likely considerably higher than what has been reported. Make no mistake, these products are dangerous and poorly understood. Young individuals are getting hooked on these cool-appearing flavored nicotines, and unknowingly putting their lungs and their lives in danger. This knowledge must be shared and spread.
As such, it is important that parents have open and honest dialogues with their children about the inherent risks involved with vaping. Parents should educate themselves on the latest facts about vaping, and facilitate conversations with their teens and young adults about e-cigarette use. With early education and a better understanding of the danger of e-cigs, we hope to reverse the rising trend in the use of these products in the last few years. Other factors that may reduce their appeal are the high cost of these products, the artificial chemical smell, and the lack of understanding of what these chemicals actually do to your body once vaporized and inhaled.
If a parent finds that their child IS motivated to change, there are several steps that can be taken. The AAP and Kidshealth.org recommended that all paraphernalia are thrown away, have your child tell their friends that they are quitting, chew fruity gum or candy, help them recognize their individual triggers for vaping (drinking coffee, after eating, or with certain friends), and then helping them avoid those situations. Additional support can be found through the National Cancer Institute, by calling 1800QUITNOW, texting “QUIT” to 47848, or visiting teen.smokefree.gov. The Truth Initiative Programming also offers resources through texting “QUIT” to 202-804-9884. Finally, involving your child’s primary care provider in the conversation can provide additional support in navigating the murky waters of addiction, vaping and nicotine use.x