The E-Cigarette Epidemic

e-cigaretteIn 2016, ads for e-cigarettes reached almost 80 percent of middle and high school age students in our country. While advertising is not the only force influencing kids, a 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 4.9 million high school students showed that 6 percent reported smoking cigarettes and 33 percent used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.

While regulatory agencies have been slow to react, pediatricians point out that nicotine forms addictive patterns in the brain that can last well into adulthood. The aerosols that get into the lungs from vaping lack thousands of carcinogenic substances contained in tobacco cigarettes, but they still contain formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals. And because adolescent brains are still developing, physicians believe that e-cigarettes can serve as a gateway to vaping of marijuana, which can impair memory, learning and decision making over time.

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Vaping in the News

As public health officials work to identify a respiratory illness putting people who vape in the hospital, negative reports continue to frighten parents. In the last month or so, two young people have died in Illinois and more than 20 others have been hospitalized throughout the state. The news is similar in other states, as more than 190 hospitalizations were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State and federal health officials are searching for answers, including details on what these people vaped.

While manufacturers say their e-cigarettes were always intended as an alternative to cigarettes for adult smokers, legal challenges are being directed at manufacturers for aggressive marketing to teenagers.