For thousands of adults, vaping has provided a way to quit smoking. While the jury is out on whether vaping is actually healthier, few people deny that smoking cigarettes is possibly worse. The problem is that many teens are picking up the habit, prompting the federal government to raise the age for purchasing tobacco and vaping products to 21, which went into effect on January 1st. Some teens may pick up the habit because they were former smokers, they?ve seen their friends do it, or because teens naturally want to do something they are told not to do.
The Numbers & Advertising
Beginning in 2014, e-cigarettes have become the most commonly used tobacco products among middle and high school students. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of teens using e-cigarettes increased by 1.5 million youths. In 2017, the CDC estimated that 14% of adults smoked cigarettes. They also revealed that 37.3% of high school seniors admitted to having used a vape in the past year.
Advertising may play a huge part in the trend of teens picking up the habit. Advertisements for e-cigarettes, vaporizers, and vape juice are prevalent across the internet, in magazines and newspapers, and in stores. This advertising can make vaping seem harmless to many teens.
Recently, a vaping-related condition that has sickened hundreds of people nationwide was given a name: EVALI. So far, 1,299 people have become ill due to vaping in 49 states. Many of those who have been sick with EVALI have reported using cartridges containing THC. However, it is important to note that the Centers for Disease Control has linked the outbreaks of EVALI to black-market THC cartridges that contain vitamin E oil. THC cartridges from reputable dispensaries like the Amsterdam are considered safe.
Potential Health Problems
Many of today?s teens know from a young age that smoking cigarettes can lead to disease and harm brain development. They are not educated that vaping may pose the same dangers. The nicotine in e-cigarettes can harm brain development, and there is some indication that it can cause lung damage as well.
Like with smoking and illegal drug use, education about the possible adverse health effects of vaping is best begun early. It is recommended that a parent or health practitioner begin education about these dangers as early as 12 or 13 years old. Parents who don?t vape can educate themselves by making a trip to a vape shop. They should take note of what the devices look like, the kinds and flavors of e-juice or vape juice available, the brands, and what the packaging looks like.
Another thing that parents and teachers should be aware of is the presence of ?hidden? e-cigarettes and vaping devices. Some e-cigarettes have been designed to be disguised as a flash drive. Other vaping devices have been designed to mimic other common items like pens, highlighters, credit cards, remote controls, and even pens. Some portable cannabis vaporizers have been designed to look like a coffee or water cup.
Governmental Steps to Curb Teen Use of E-Cigarettes
For those unaware, December 23rd, 2019, the age to purchase cigarettes, tobacco, and e-cigarettes, juices, and devices were raised to 21. This was done to curb the teen use of vaping devices and products. The law will go into effect in the summer, but many retailers are going ahead and implementing the law early.
According to an announcement last week by the Trump Administration, the U.S. Health Administration will prohibit tasty vape flavors. These flavors include candy, fruit, mint, and dessert flavors. Menthol and tobacco flavors will remain. This law primarily covers pod-style vaporizers, particularly the JUUL. The JUUL is the e-cigarette that many teenagers are using.
Originally, the administration planned to ban all flavors from all kinds of vaping devices, including e-cigarettes and vaping mods. It would have also banned menthol flavors. The administration walked back from the blanket ban to exempting menthol flavor and large tank-based vaping devices. This decision was another step to curbing the epidemic of teen vaping. The logic is that teens are more attracted to these flavors and therefore, more likely to try vaping.
While e-cigarettes and vaporizers have been linked to lung damage and nicotine has undoubtedly found to change a developing brain, there is still a growing number of teens vaping. EVALI is primarily linked to THC cartridges, though some with the illness only reported using regular e-cigarettes. It is important to remember that many of these cases of EVALI have also been linked to black-market cartridges. Take care to purchase your e-juice, e-cigarettes, cannabis cartridges, and vapes from a reputable source. Avoid products that are listed for sale by individuals on places like Craigslist and other online marketplaces.