Everyone is aware of the dangers of smoking. For years we have discouraged
youngsters from smoking. And it’s worked. The number of middle school
and high school student smokers has declined over the past decade.
Then, electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, hit the market and “vaping”
quickly became a trend, especially among middle school, high school and
even college-aged students. According to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), if the current rate of use holds, 5.6 million of
today’s Americans younger than 18 will suffer an early death from
a smoking-related illness.
Vaping refers to the use of electronic cigarette devices, which heat up
a special e-liquid, creating an aerosol that delivers nicotine, flavorings
and other additives when inhaled. Upon exhaling, a cloud of vapor is emitted,
resembling smoke, thus the term “vaping.” Known by many names,
the most common, “Juuling,” refers to an increasingly popular
brand of e-cigarette called JUUL.
So what has made this new trend attractive? Besides typical peer pressure,
the advertising for these products can be a big influencer.
“Many of my patients have been persuaded by the manufacturers that
vaping will give you the benefits of smoking without any of the problems
of smoking,” explains
Dr. Joseph Heneghan, a
North Oaks Primary Care physician. “However, the more we learn about vaping, the more we
learn about its problems. These include addiction, the financial cost
and the connection between nicotine and increased heart attacks.”
Although the aerosol from vaping may be pleasantly flavored and contains
fewer toxic chemicals than regular cigarette smoking, it is not harmless.
Besides nicotine, it can contain other potentially harmful substances
that are linked to a serious lung disease.
Vaping can also be more discreet than regular cigarette smoking, resembling
everyday items such as ink pens, computer flash drives and lipsticks,
and it’s easier for children to hide, even in schools.
Researchers are still learning about vaping’s long-term health effects.
However, for teens and young adults, it is known that use of any tobacco
product, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe.
- E-cigarettes often contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and can
harm adolescent brain development.
- They can contain other harmful substances like cancer-causing chemicals
and tiny particles that go deep into the lungs.
- E-cigarettes can cause fires and explosions from defective batteries, and
poisoning from swallowing, breathing or absorbing e-cigarette liquids.
- E-cigarettes may lead young people to begin smoking regular cigarettes
in the future.
- They can be used to deliver marijuana and other drugs.
Dr. Heneghan agrees.
“Vaping is very addictive and hard to stop,” he stresses. “Think
of who loses when you vape – you, including your heart and lungs.
Also, chemicals from vaping can cause harmful 'second-hand' smoke
to those around you. There are better things you can do with your health
and money, like skate board, go for a run or hit the weights.”
For more information on vaping, visit
www.cdc.gov or talk to your health care provider.
EDITOR’S NOTE: On Dec. 18, 2018, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome
Adams issued a rare
national advisory urging new local restrictions including taxes and indoor vaping bans,
to combat e-cigarette usage among young people.