Vaping products were created to help adult smokers quit tobacco, but studies now show adults aren’t the only ones using e-cigarettes, and concerns are escalating about widespread vaping among young people and the dangers that follow.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in 2018 on tobacco use and vaping among middle and high school students, which showed that 19 percent of girls and 23 percent of boys are actively vaping.
Pima County officials recently said vaping among youth has reached an “alarming” level. The 2018 Arizona Youth Survey reported that 48 percent of Pima County youth have tried an e-cigarette or a vape at least once in their lives.
According to Know the Risks: e-cigarettes and young people, an education program in the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, the brain is still developing in teenagers and young adults, up until age 26.
The surgeon general’s program also reports, “Even breathing e-cigarette aerosol that someone else has exhaled poses potential risks.”
E-cigarettes and vapes affect the part of the brain that controls attention, learning, mood and impulse control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vapes often come in flavors that appeal to teens (mint, cherry), and teenagers are more likely to get addicted, making them four times more likely to smoke tobacco.
Often teens are caught up in the fad and do not pay attention to reports that tobacco, e-cigarettes and vaping expose users to chemicals and carcinogenic compounds and can cause lung damage. “Popcorn lung,” one such danger, is a condition that damages the most narrow passageways in the lungs and causes inflammation.
Teens also are unaware or uninterested that vaping can weaken a person’s immune system, damage blood vessels, and increase heart rate and blood pressure. In April the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced vaping can cause seizures.