E-Cigarettes and Youth
E-cigarettes are very popular with youth, and their use is growing dramatically. Today, more high school students use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes, and the use of e-cigarettes is higher among high school students than adults.[i]
According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among youth since 2014.[ii] FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, believes this issue to be so serious that he has declared e-cigarette usage among teenagers “an epidemic” and states that “the disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end.”[iii]
What is in an E-Cigarette?
E-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid (usually containing propylene glycol, glycerin, water, nicotine, and flavorings) into an aerosol that the user inhales into their lungs. You may have heard other terms used when it comes to using e-cigarettes such as vaping or Juuling. What many kids and parents don’t realize is that this liquid is not water, and it is not safe. Not only is the nicotine in e-cigarettes highly addictive, the e-liquid (also called juice) also contains harmful ingredients such as:
- ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
- flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease, and
- heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead.
Risks to the Developing Brain
Youth and young adults are uniquely at risk for long-term, long-lasting, effects of exposing their developing brains to nicotine. These risks include mood disorders, life-long addiction, and permanent lowering of impulse control. Nicotine also changes the way synapses are formed, which can harm the parts of the brain that control attention and learning.[iv]
How to Talk to Kids About E-Cigarettes
You have the power to influence your children’s decision about whether to use e-cigarettes. Be clear that you don’t approve of them smoking or using e-cigarettes, and that you expect them to live tobacco-free.[v]
Here are some tips:
- Know the facts
- Be patient and ready to listen
- Set a positive example by being tobacco free
If you’re currently using tobacco, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health, and the health of your family members. For free help, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
i Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). National Youth Tobacco Survey 2011-2015. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/surveys/nyts/index.htm
ii Bach, L. (2018, June 19). Electronic Cigarettes and Youth. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Retrieved from https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0382.pdf
iii U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2018, September 12). Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on new steps to address epidemic of youth e-cigarette use. FDA Statement. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm620185.htm
iv U.S Surgeon General and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office on Smoking and Health. (2018). Know the Risks: E-Cigarettes & Young People. Retrieved from https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/knowtherisks.html
v Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office on Smoking and Health. (2018). Talk with Your Teen About E-Cigarettes: A Tip Sheet for Parents. Retrieved from https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/SGR_ECig_ParentTipSheet_508.pdf