The New Epidemic: Youth Vaping and Smoking (Part 1)
By: Philip Harris, KDHE
Last year in the National Parks and Recreation Association' monthly magazine there was an article entitled the Youth Vaping Epidemic, perhaps you saw it. In case you missed it or want to know more; we present a four-part series on youth vaping and smoking in Kansas.
The term “vaping” refers to the use of e-cigarettes or vaporizers. These products have several nicknames which include e-cigs, e-hookahs, hookah pens, vapes, vape pens and mods, which are more powerful, customizable vaporizers. Some e-cigarettes are made to look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some resemble pens, USB sticks, and other everyday items. The most popular among these brands is JUUL, which sells an e-cigarette device that resembles a USB flash drive. These are battery-operated devices that release doses of vaporized nicotine, marijuana and other drugs that users inhale.
These products are not safe for adolescents. They often contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including nicotine which has addictive properties, formaldehyde and acrolein, heavy metals like lead, and volatile organic compounds. Though the aerosol released from e-cigarettes yield less chemicals than traditional cigarettes, that does not mean e-cigarettes are safe.
Most e-cigarettes have nicotine, which has known negative health effects. Not only is nicotine highly addictive it also can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. Besides nicotine, e-cigarette aerosol can contain other substances that can damage the body. This includes harmful cancer-causing agents.
EVALI an acronym that stands for, e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury, is the name given by the CDC to the dangerous, newly identified lung disease linked to vaping that was first recognized in the fall of 2019. Though vitamin E acetate has been associated with this illness, there could be several other causes that are yet to be found. It is unclear how the condition develops or why, in the most severe cases it causes the lungs to just stop working. Kansas has had 24 confirmed or probable cases and 2 confirmed deaths related to this illness and 11/28 of cases are less than 24 years old.
E-cigarettes can also cause unintended injuries. Defective batteries have caused fires, explosions which have resulted in serious burns and injuries. Additionally, swallowing breathing or absorbing e-cigarette liquids has poisoned children and adults.
For the most current information on e-cigarettes check out the CDCand join us in the next issue as we tackle the numbers around vaping. For a sneak peak check out our quick facts.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment Tobacco Use Prevention Program