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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Electronic Cigarettes & Vaping Catching on With High & Middle Schoolers

A recent YouTube video highlights the issues with electronic cigarettes.  These popular gadgets have become very popular with teens & tweens with their usage doubling from 2011 to 2012.  They are also very controversial with very little research available on there effectiveness.  In addition, there is very little regulation on e-cigarettes and the amount of nicotine in them.  New York City is one of the few governments that treats e-cigarettes as the same as regular cigarettes as part of the amendments of the Smoke-Free Air Act of 2002.    

According to WebMD, "all e-cigarettes work basically the same way.  Inside, there's a battery, a heating element, and a cartridge that holds nicotine and other liquids and flavorings.  Features and costs vary.  Some are disposable.  Others have a rechargeable battery and refillable cartridges.  Using an e-cigarette is called "vaping"."

One of the major concerns with e-cigarettes is the liquid nicotine that is used.  Since nicotine is highly addictive, e-cigarette users will have withdrawal symptoms of irritability, depression, restlessness, & anxiousness.  Nicotine is dangerous to people with heart problems and may damage arteries over time.  Many of these products claim to be nicotine free, however, testing has shown that some may have varying levels of nicotine in the vapor.

The purpose of these e-cigarettes were to help smokers with their smoking cessations programs.  However, these are now being marketed and popularity is bringing them to underage students (primarily because there are no laws limiting their sale to minors - there are some laws regarding nicotine and liquid nicotine, but not enough).  A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study found that during 2011-2013, the number of youths who had never smoked a cigarette but had used e-cigarettes at least once increased three-fold (from 79,000 in 2011 to 263,000 in 2013).  Never-smokers who had ever used e-cigarettes were nearly twice as likely to have an intention to smoke conventional cigarettes than never smokers who had not used e-cigarettes (43.9% vs 21.5%).

According to Fortune Magazine, e-cigarette sales in the United States, were estimated to be $1.5 billion in 2014, with estimated growth of 24.2% per year through 2018.  With the current state of lack of regulations are we looking at a next generation of smokers hooked on nicotine from e-cigarettes and hence the next health crisis.  It may be time to start regulating this industry specifically the use of nicotine in these products.  Truth in advertising would go a long way to resolving many of the concerns with this potentially useful gadget.  

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