The Vaping Crisis
Five facts parents need to know
Could that pen, USB flash drive or candy container in your child’s backpack be an electronic-cigarette used for vaping? Electronic-cigarettes, or e-cigs, have reached epidemic levels among teens, with usage increasing nearly 80% between 2017 and 2018, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Yet many parents don’t know much about e-cigs or vaping. We break it down in five simple but important facts you need to know.
1. E-Cigs Come in Many Forms
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine, flavorings and other ingredients in the form of an aerosol that is inhaled. These devices come in all shapes, sizes and thousands of flavors.
“More than 70% of Butte County students know someone in high school or younger who is using e-cigarettes for vaping.”
2. They Are Popular
The 2019 Butte County Community Health Assessment Report indicated that more than 70% of Butte County students know someone in high school or younger who is using e-cigarettes for vaping.
Nationally, an estimated 28% of high-school students and 10% of middle-school students said they’d used e-cigarettes in the past month, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That amounts to 5.3 million users, despite federal law that prohibits the sales of e-cigarettes to minors.
3. Many Think Vaping Is Harmless
A lot of kids experiment or use vaping products because they think they’re harmless, said Andy Miller, M.D., health officer for Butte County Public Health. These products come in more than 15,000 flavors, including kid-friendly favorites like mango, bubble gum and cotton candy. Although the flavors mask the harsh taste of tobacco and make it easier to inhale, these flavorings are created by using chemicals, some of which are toxic to young lungs.
A recent study on the long-term effects of vaping suggests that e-cigarettes users are 30% more likely to develop chronic lung disease, according to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“Nicotine rewires the teen brain and can affect attention, learning, memory, and increase the risk for future addiction to other drugs.”
4. Vapes Contain Chemicals & Nicotine
E-cigarettes, or vapes, also produce a toxic aerosol containing harmful substances, including cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals and ultrafine particles that reach deep into the lungs, according to the CDC.
Flavored e-cigarettes also contain nicotine, which can harm developing adolescent brains, Miller said. Nicotine rewires the teen brain and can affect attention, learning, memory, and increase the risk for future addiction to other drugs.
How much nicotine is in an e-cig? According to the manufacturer of JUUL, the nation’s top-selling e-cigarette brand, a single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes, the CDC reports.
Researchers fear that e-cigarettes are the gateway to tobacco addiction among young people.
“There’s a whole new generation of people addicted to nicotine,” Miller added. “No tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, is safe for young people.” Tobacco use is the leading cause of cancer and heart disease in the U.S., according to the CDC.
“No tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, is safe for young people,” said Andy Miller, M.D., health officer for Butte County Public Health.
5. Parents Can Act
If you’re worried your teen may be vaping or you want to prevent it, take a proactive approach.
- Learn about the shapes, types and risks of e-cigarettes.
- Talk to your children about the harmful effects of vaping.
- Set a good example by not using tobacco products.
Get more information about vaping and how to quit by visiting Butte County Public Health’s website or calling 1-800-No-Butts.
A recent lung illness, known as e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), has affected more than a thousand people and caused more than 25 deaths, according to the CDC. Those affected may experience:
- A cough
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
If you vape and are experiencing any of these symptoms, see a doctor. You don’t have to be a long-time user to develop EVALI. New users have been affected as well.