E-cigarettes appeal to younger market
While more teens and young adults are saying no to smoking, they are picking up another, unhealthy habit – vaping.
Vaping is the term used to describe the use of electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes.
The devices allow users to inhale an aerosol vapor containing nicotine and other substances.
E-cigarettes are battery powered and use a heating element to warm a liquid from a refillable cartridge that releases the chemical-filled vapor.
Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy earlier this month called the increase used of e-cigarettes among youth “a major public health concern.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported vaping among teens increased 24 percent in 2015, which shows its growing popularity at a time when teen smoking rates have decreased, said Dr. Michelle Soto, a family medicine physician at ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca.
“Teens and young adults know about the health dangers associated with smoking cigarettes and think vaping is safe since there is no smoke involved and will not harm the lungs,” she said. “While e-cigs are relatively new, some studies have shown they can harm the arteries. They also contain nicotine, which is highly addictive.”
When people stop using nicotine, they go into withdrawal and feel depressed and crabby.
“A nicotine habit can be difficult to beat, but it can be done,” Soto said. “It sometimes takes a couple of times before beating it.”
There are resources available to help people with a nicotine addiction, she said.
The Wisconsin Quit Line is a free resource anyone can use by calling 800-784-8669.
Sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, it provides smokers with free coaching, web forums and medication to help with nicotine cravings.
In addition to nicotine addiction, some e-cigarettes contain formaldehyde and an ingredient that is also found in antifreeze.
The flavors found in e-cigarettes can also cause health problems.
A chemical called diacetyl has a buttery flavor, but when it is inhaled can cause lung problems, Soto said.
Since e-cigarettes are relatively new to the market, there are several studies going on to determine possible health risks, in addition to those already known.
The FDA regulates e-cigarettes just like regular cigarettes, including the rule that no one under the age of 18 is allowed to purchase them. A recent study in the Pediatrics journal found that teens who never smoked, but used e-cigarettes are six times more likely to try cigarettes compared to teens who do not vape.
“Vaping can definitely be an entry point into smoking,” Soto said. “It’s important parents talk with their children about the dangers of vaping and that, like smoking, it is addictive and not an easy habit to quit.”