It’s Tobacco Free Florida Week, April 22-28. This year’s theme is E-Epidemic: Vaping and Youth to help “educate parents, educators, pediatricians and partners on what they need to know about vaping and youth.”
Teen vaping has skyrocketed in Florida and around the U.S. According to the 2018 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 37.9% of high school students have tried electronic vaping in 2018, up 18.1% between 2017-2018. Current use of electronic vaping increased 58.0% in that one year time period. Middle school students who have tried electronic vaping increased 18.5% during the one year time period, while those who are current users increased 44.4% Only 4% of Florida adults are vaping, but 1 in 4 teens report vaping in our state.
Parents need to know that e-cigarette devices contain nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals that produce an aerosol that is inhaled when heated. While some refer to the aerosol as vapor, it is not water. Some of the flavorings used in the devices are approved as food additives, but the effects of inhaling flavorings into the lungs is not known and could be harmful long-term.
The majority of e-cigarettes liquids contain nicotine which is highly addictive. JUUL, the most popular brand of e-cigarettes used by teens, uses nicotine salts which allows high nicotine levels to be inhaled at lower temperatures, “provides a smoother throat hit,” and makes the nicotine more absorbable. This may cause youth to become addicted quicker compared to adults. One JUUL pod, the liquid refill part of the device, contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes and can provide up to 200 puffs.
The important time for brain development is the adolescent and young adult years, which continues up to about age 25. Nicotine exposure during this time can cause addiction and other effects “including reduced impulse control, deficits in attention and cognition, and mood disorders.” Evidence suggests that using e-cigarettes may increase the risk of youth starting to smoke traditional cigarettes, while nicotine use may also “increase the risk of future addiction to other drugs.”
According to the Surgeon General Report on E-cigarettes and Young People, “E-cigarette use poses a significant–and avoidable–health risk to young people in the U.S.” We can decrease teen e-cigarette use in our state by educating both parents and teens about the harms caused by the use of these products.
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