E-cigarettes continue to rise in popularity among teens. They are now, by far, the most used tobacco product among middle school and high school students. As high as 25% of high school students have used these products. These electronic devices also known as e-cigs, vape pens, vapes, e-cigars, pod systems and mods are NOT safe alternatives to traditional cigarette smoking. This is a summary of what parents need to know.
What are E-Cigarettes?
E-cigarettes produce a vapor that usually contains nicotine and other chemicals inhaled by the user. This process is commonly called vaping. The liquid solution used can not only contain nicotine but also marijuana, herbs, waxes and oils. The vape liquid was in the past often flavored to make it more appealing for teens. While flavoring vape liquid was banned federally in 2019, the ban excluded mint and menthol flavors and did not include disposable devices. These disposable devices are still sold in many appealing flavors, are relatively inexpensive, and are the most popular type being used by teens. They are often packaged to look like pens, flashlights, USB drives, Fidget spinners, etc. in order to promote use among the younger population.
Why are E-Cigarettes and Vaping Harmful?
The nicotine found in both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes is addictive and can harm brain development, especially in the young developing brains of children and adolescents. Using nicotine harms parts of the brain that controls attention, learning, mood, and impulse control. The more teens vape, the harder it is to stop due to the addictive nature of nicotine. Studies show these kids are more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes in the future and have increased risk for other substance abuse.
There is also the risk of nicotine-poisoning with symptoms of vomiting, dizziness, increased heart rate, seizures and difficulty breathing. A young child can even be killed by a very small amount of nicotine. These devices also contain other harmful chemicals such as antifreeze and formaldehyde, as well as cancer-causing heavy metals. Second-hand smoke from vape devices are harmful to the growing child’s lungs as well.
The best way to protect your children is to never smoke cigarettes or vape in the home, car or anywhere that children and teens spend time. Speak to your TopLine MD Alliance affiliated physician about alternative ways to quit tobacco products and to recover from nicotine addiction. Plus, remember to keep devices and liquid nicotine locked and out of reach of children, and also protect your skin when handling these products.
Make sure you talk to your children about the dangers of e-cigarettes. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports actions to prevent children and youth from being exposed to or using these products. Reach out to your TopLine MD Alliance affiliated Pediatrician for more information and advice about keeping your child safe and healthy.
Dr. Michael Bruck is a proud member of the TopLine MD Alliance practicing Pediatric Care in Palm Beach County.
The TopLine MD Alliance is an association of independent physicians and medical practice groups who are committed to providing a higher standard of healthcare services. The members of the TopLine MD Alliance have no legal or financial relationship with one another. The TopLine MD Alliance brand has no formal corporate, financial or legal ties to any of the affiliated physicians or practice groups.