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The Dangers of Vaping and E-Cigarettes

Posted on Apr 23, 2018

Jasmine Reese, M.D.

The use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) by youth and young adults has been rapidly increasing. Recent data has shown that more than 2 million middle school and high school students in the United States have used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. Although these electronic vaping devices are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, they are not safe and teens and parents need to be aware. Jasmine Reese, M.D., director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Specialty Clinic at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, explains the health risks associated with these electronic vaping products.

What Are Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems?

Examples of electronic nicotine delivery systems include e-cigarettes, e-cigars, JUUL, e-hookah, and other vaping devices. In summary, a liquid product is heated with a battery-operated device to create an aerosolized liquid vapor. These liquid products typically come in a variety of flavors that make them very popular and attractive to youth and then they are inhaled by the person using it. The devices can come in different shapes and sizes and can be very easy to hide. They can look just like a traditional cigarette or cigar, but they can also look like other common items such as a pen, flash drive or a key fob.

Why is Vaping Dangerous?

These products contain many different chemicals including nicotine. Nicotine is addictive and causes harmful effects to the adolescent brain, which is still developing. Aerosols produced by e-cigarettes and vaping devices are also harmful to the lungs and contain toxic cancer-causing chemicals and other harmful agents such as volatile substances, ultra-fine particles, and heavy metals like nickel, tin and lead. Not only are teens inhaling these substances into their own lungs but bystanders also are inhaling these toxins. Other dangers include e-cigarettes and electronic devices that are defective can cause fires and serious unintended injuries. Research also suggests that youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes in the future.

How Can Parents Help?

Parents should be routinely asking teens about any type of tobacco use, including the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products. It is important to be familiar with the different types of products and nicknames that exist so that you can have an open and honest conversation. Parents should be stressing the importance of avoiding these products and discussing the harms that these substances have on their health. Parents shouldn’t vape around their teen or let other adults use e-cigarettes or vape products around their teen. This will not only set a good example, but also avoid their exposure to the toxic substances.

This information was shared on WTVT-TV’s Doc on Call segment, which is aimed at helping parents learn more about children’s health issues. The segment airs each Monday morning on Good Day Tampa Bay.

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