I thought we were immune, or lucky, or our children were just smarter — but that is not the way it is. After nearly two generations of declining cigarette use by children, e-cigarettes have come to our community, and our tweens and teens are vaping and juuling up a storm.
E-cigarettes, personal vaporizers, vape pens, e-cigars, e-hookah, juuls, or vaping devices, are products that produce an aerosolized mixture containing flavored liquids and nicotine that is inhaled by the user. E-cigarettes can resemble traditional tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or common gadgets like flashlights, flash drives or pens. And you should know that children are being targeted with the appealing and easily hidden shapes, and with flavored liquids like “gummy bear” and “cotton candy.” We know who is trying to “hook” another generation. We also know that these children will suffer diseases and death from this addiction.
Youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to use cigarettes or other tobacco products.
E-cigarette solution has chemicals like anti-freeze, diethylene glycol, and carcinogens like nitrosamines.
E-cigarette devices mimic conventional cigarette use and help normalize smoking behaviors.
In 2016, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD MBA released a report, “E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General.” The report concluded that youth should not use e-cigarettes due to the health effects on users and on others exposed to secondhand e-cigarette aerosol
About one in four youth who use e-cigarettes also will try dripping: the liquid is dripped directly onto a heat coil, which makes the vapor thicker and stronger.
E-Juice can be ordered on the internet, and online stores don’t always ask for proof of age.
Whatever you read about adults who want to use e-cigarettes to help stop using conventional cigarettes, the emergency for our community is how to keep our children from using these harmful and addictive products.
Experts recommend talking with your children and teens about the dangers of e-cigarettes and be clear that you do not want them to use these products. An excellent toolkit is available: http://med.stanford.edu tobaccopreventiontoolkit.html.
If your child is already vaping, keep calm and listen to what they have to say about it. Offer to help them begin the process of stopping. For more information, visit www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/Pages/E-cigarettes.aspx.
Let’s all work to protect our children from this harmful, addictive and available threat.
Dr. Danette Glassy, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician at Mercer Island Pediatrics, providing a medical home for her patients for over 20 years. She is also an active child advocate working to improve the health and well-being of children and their families across the country. In this column she shares information of interest to families and caregivers as their child’s primary advocate. Information is her own view and not medical advice.