E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products

  • E-cigarettes are a growing health threat to the nation's youth.  The U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy is calling e-cigarettes an emerging public health threat to the nation’s youth, saying that e-cigarettes aren’t harmless and too many teens are using them.  One in six high school students used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days in 2015. 

    E-cigarette use is now more common among teens than other tobacco-related products.  “I’ve traveled around the country and many young people and many adults don’t recognize e-cigarettes are not harmless. They think these are not tobacco products and that they are benign water vapor. But we know nicotine has harmful effects on the developing brain. We’re issuing this report to draw people’s attention to the scale of the problem,” said Murthy.’’

    Nicotine is bad for a developing brain no matter how it’s consumed, Murthy said.  “Your kids are not an experiment.”

    Advertising and marketing intentionally aimed at youth, including flavors, have attracted young people to e-cigarettes, said the surgeon general. Eighty-one percent of kids cite flavors as a driving factor for use of e-cigarettes.

    His report calls on parents and health workers to make concerns about e-cigarettes clear to young people. He said local officials should take action, too, such as including e-cigarettes in indoor smoke-free policies. He is also calling for added research to help health experts better understand the products, their health impact and use among young people.

    Battery-powered e-cigarettes turn liquid nicotine into an inhalable vapor without the harmful tar generated by regular cigarettes. Vaping was first pushed as a safer alternative for current smokers, but there’s no scientific consensus on the risks or advantages of vaping, including how it affects the likelihood of someone either picking up regular tobacco products or kicking the habit.  (Source:  “Surgeon General Vivek Murthy: E-cigarettes a growing health threat to nation's youth,” CBS News, Dec. 8, 2016)

  • Vaporizers are typically more customizable, and offer a variety of different flavors including strawberry, tobacco, and even fried ice cream.  Vapes generally also last longer, and hold more liquid than e-cigarettes, which are usually profiled in cartons and are sold at gas stations or other convenient stores.  Both do not contain tobacco, but can contain nicotine. 

    People are being “tricked” into thinking vapor products are safer than cigarettes.  They could be ‘marginally’ better in comparison to regular cigarettes, but still can contain harmful chemicals.  Unlike cigarettes that destroy your lungs slowly, vapor products and e-cigarettes can contain dactyl, which is a chemical that acts rapidly and destroys the inside of peoples’ lungs.  

    Harmful chemicals associated with “pop-corn lung” are present in many types of flavored e-cigarettes, particularly those with flavors like fruit and candy.  That is how companies attract young users.  Of the 51 flavored e-cigarettes tested, dactyl was found in 39 samples and 47 contained flavoring chemicals.  (Source:  Democratic Rep. Gerry Pollet, teaches public health at the University of Washington, 2017)

  • “Kids’ brains are highly susceptible to nicotine addiction.  This may be condemning those kids to nicotine addiction for life.”   (Source:  Dr. Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and  Dr. Jon Lapook, CDC, FDA, CBS Evening News, 2013)
  • Health officials worry that many kids are now getting a first taste of nicotine through e-cigarettes and then moving on to regular tobacco products.  E-cigarettes use a battery to convert liquid nicotine, flavoring (like fruit, mint or chocolate) and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled.  There is no smoke or tar, but the CDC says nicotine is addictive and can affect the developing adolescent brain. 

    Teenage use of electronic cigarettes has tripled in the last year, a trend the CDC calls alarming.  In 2014, 2.5 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes, according to a CDC report.  (CDC:  E-cigarette use rises among teens, Dr. Jon LaPook, CBS Evening News, April 16, 2015,
  • There is no way of knowing exactly what is in the vapor, because e-cigarettes are not FDA regulated, although more than 20 states have banned store sales to minors.  In 2009, the FDA reported finding toxic chemicals in 2 leading brands.  The FDA does not currently restrict the use of e-cigarettes with regulations.   (Dr. Jon Lapook, CBS Evening News, Sept. 5, 2013, and Mike Stobbe, E-cigarette sampling among youths outpaces adults', study finds, Associated Press)

  • Smokeless tobacco is a known cause of cancer. In addition, the nicotine in smokeless tobacco may increase the risk for sudden death from a condition where the heart does not beat properly (ventricular arrhythmias).    Source:  CDC, August 2015. 
  • Shocking New Statistics.  The connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer has been widely reported for decades. As it turns out, that's just the tip of the iceberg. 

    Disturbing new data shows that smoking or chewing tobacco also leads to 11 other types of cancer: mouth and throat, voice box, esophagus, stomach, kidney, pancreas, liver, bladder, cervix, colon and rectum, and a type of leukemia.

    Tobacco use is so harmful
    that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us it leads to 40%, nearly half, of all cancer diagnoses and a third of all cancer deaths, making it the number one preventable cause of cancer and cancer deaths.

    Despite these ominous statistics, the good news is tobacco use in America is at an all-time low. Roughly 36 million Americans smoke, about 15% of the total population.  That's the lowest number of smokers ever recorded since the CDC began collecting data in 1965. 

    Smoking rates remain the highest among men, people living below the poverty line, and those without a high school diploma.   (“Smoking and Cancer:  Why There’s More at Risk than Your Lungs,” by Lorie Johnson, CBN News, November 30, 2016; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

  • Current e-cigarette use among high school students rose from 1.5% to 13.4%, and among middle school students from 0.6% to 3.9%.  (Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011-2014) 

  • E-cigarette and vapor product use dropped approximately 5 percentage points among 10th-graders from 2014 to 2016 in Washington state.  (Source:  2016b survey conducted by the Dept. of Health and other agencies)

  • A rapid rise has been found in nicotine poisoning among children under age 6 who are exposed to e-cigarettes.  Researchers in Ohio studied the monthly U.S. poison center calls related to e-cigarette exposure, and found the numbers of children at risk increased over 15 times from January 2012 - April 2015.  Liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes can harm young children if swallowed or absorbed into the skin.  Most cases involved swallowing liquid nicotine.  At least one child died.  Vomiting and a quickened heartbeat are among the symptoms.  ("Rapid rise in children nicotine poisoning," Pediatrics - The New York Times, May 9, 2016)

  • Current use of electronic cigarettes increased among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2014.

    • Nearly 4 of every 100 middle school students (3.9%) reported in 2014 that they used electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days—an increase from 0.6% in 2011.

    • More than 13 of every 100 high school students (13.4%) reported in 2014 that they used electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days—an increase from 1.5% in 2011.

      Tobacco use is started and established primarily during adolescence.
    • Nearly 3 of every 100 middle school students (2.5%) reported in 2014 that they smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days—a decrease from 4.3% in 2011.
    • About 9 of every 100 high school students (9.2%) reported in 2014 that they smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days—a decrease from 15.8% in 2011.

    • From 2011 to 2014, current cigarette smoking declined among middle and high school students, while e-cigarette smoking dramatically increased. 
      (CDC, http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/youth_data/tobacco_use/)
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