The U.S. surgeon general is calling e-cigarettes an emerging public health threat to the nation’s youth. In a report released on Dec. 8th, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy acknowledged a need for more research into the health effects of “vaping,” but said e-cigarettes aren’t harmless and too many teens are using them.
Local experts agree, including Dr. Lara Hardman, Pulmonologist at Intermountain Memorial Clinic. She wrote the following article, warning parents to be wary of e-cigarettes.
There is a lot of misinformation out there, so I want to help set the record straight. First, there is NO data (zero, nil) that e-cigarettes are safe to use. If someone tells you they are safe, they are giving false and misleading information. Here is what we actually know:
- There is nicotine in e-cigarettes which is one of the most addicting substances known. Nicotine itself is harmful and a cancer-causing agent.
- Kids and teenagers who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke tobacco cigarettes. If they already smoke tobacco cigarettes and use e-cigarettes, they are less likely to quit.
- E-cigarettes are big business for the tobacco industry. This year US consumers will spend 3 billion dollars on e-cigarettes, twice what they did last year!
All of the major tobacco companies are now in the e-cigarette business. These businesses are the same people who spent decades perfecting the art of data distortion and saying smoking was not bad for us. They are advertising to our kids, normalizing smoking behaviors and cigarette use, and it is working. Consdier this:
- Nearly 1/3 (31.7%) of Utah youths who tried e-cigarettes report that they have never tried conventional cigarettes. Studies have shown that kids who use e-cigarettes are heavier, not lighter smokers.
- Utah youth are three times more likely to report current use than adults. Despite the legal smoking age of 19, youth can get e-cigarettes fairly easily from the internet and retail shops.
- Kids use of e-cigarettes has tripled from 2011 to 2013.
Another concern is the lack of regulation around the content of these products. The Davis County Health Department found that e-juice nicotine contents were up to 3 times higher than the labeled amount and e-juice labeled as nicotine-free actually had nicotine in it. The FDA has announced it will start regulating content and labeling, but this won’t go into effect for a few years. In the meantime, consumers can’t be certain what is in the e-juice. In addition to nicotine, there are other harmful ingredients which are heated and inhaled into the lungs. E-juice has been shown to contain formaldehyde, other carcinogens, and toxic ultra fine particles which damage the lungs.
You may hear about kids who smoke e-cigarettes (who would never consider smoking regular cigarettes) that insist they are safe and can even pull up websites that confirm their opinion. Please remember, they are NOT safe, and getting your information from the tobacco industry is unwise. The tobacco industry has a long history of making false public statements about the content, delivery, and safety of their products. There is no data on safety, the success of use as a smoking cessation product, or even their ingredients. Be as diligent about teaching your children to avoid e-cigarettes as tobacco cigarettes.