August 2019: Children and Teen’s Health Advisory Vaping and E-Cigarette Epidemic
Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) are devices that release aerosol mixtures of liquid flavors and nicotine. Some of these devices also offer a method of smoking marijuana, herbs, waxes and oils. They often parallel the appearance of cigarettes or small electronic devices (USBs, pens, etc.).
Are vapes and e-cigarettes safe?
Despite incredibly tactful marketing campaigns that may say otherwise, ENDS are not safe as the vaporized solutions contain carcinogens and toxic metals. There is rising new concerns that e-cigarette use is associated with severe lung illnesses and is currently being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When heated by the electric battery packs, these inhaled chemicals become poisonous. Defective ENDS batteries cause fires and explosions leaving its users with serious injuries. Marketing ploys using fun, candy-like flavoring encouraged the 78% increase in ENDS use in high school students from 2017 to 2018. Additionally, while the initial intention for the products’ use was adult smoking cessation, many of these devices contain 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine making them highly addictive. In fact, research shows that those who vape are 4x more likely to smoke cigarettes later in life. Therefore, ENDS are not approved by the FDA for smoking cessation. If the addictive factors weren’t bad enough, the inhalation of these solutions can cause:
- Liquid nicotine poisoning (central nervous system dysfunction, vomiting, elevated heart rate, breathing difficulty, seizures)
- “Popcorn lung” (lung disease linked with flavoring inhalation)
- Acrylonitrile poisoning (respiratory malfunction, limb weakness, nausea)
- Acrolein poisoning (pulmonary edema, death)
As a parent, what can I do?
- Be an example: children learn from their parents. If you show them a nicotine-and-tobacco-free life, they will learn to live a nicotine-and-tobacco-free life. If you need help with smoking or e-cigarette cessation, visit https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/tobacco/Pages/How-to-Quit-When-the-Smoker-is-You.aspx
- Set rules: explain that your house and car are nicotine-and-tobacco-free environments. The fewer spaces they have to smoke, the less likely children are to smoke.
- Have an open conversation: find the right time to sit down with your kids. Know and show them the facts. The best way to prevent smoking, is to be educated on the topic. For tips on how to structure the conversation and answer common questions, use the Surgeon General’s Tip Sheet for Parents which can be found at: https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/SGR_ECig_ParentTipSheet_508.pdf
- Seek advice from a medical professional: information about health is best received from a health care provider. Make an appointment for your child to meet with their pediatrician to discuss the dangers of ENDS use.
This document was created by student intern, Maddie Burton, and reviewed by Dr. Amy Brown, MD.