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Electric or e-smoking: Get the facts on vaping and teens

  • An e-cigarette is a battery-operated device used to inhale aerosol.
  • Studies show that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try conventional cigarettes than their non-vaping friends.
  • Among teens who use two or more tobacco products, a majority use both e-cigarettes and tobacco.

An electric, or e-cigarette, is a battery operated device used to inhale vapor. It is also known as “vaping”.  You may have heard that the use of e-cigarettes by young people can protect them from using cigarettes or help them stop smoking cigarettes. The fact is there is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, studies show that teens who vape are more likely to try conventional cigarettes than their non-vaping friends. Among high school students and young adults who use two or more tobacco products, a majority use both e-cigarettes and tobacco products.

Addiction can harm a teen’s brain

Many of the same chemicals that make cigarettes so bad for you are also present in e-cigarette products. When the liquid cartridges are heated into a vapor, some ingredients which start out as harmless (such as, propylene glycol) go through a chemical change and end up becoming dangerous (such as, formaldehyde gas). Along with these cancer-causing chemicals, metal pieces from the coil can break off while your teen vapes, and leave “whiskers” of dangerous particles that then can be inhaled.

Electric cigarette contents can be harmful to your brain

Each time a new memory is created or a new skill is learned, stronger connections – or synapses – are built between your brain cells. Teen brains build synapses faster than adult brains which can lead to them becoming addicted to tobacco products more easily than do adults. The nicotine in e-cigarettes and tobacco products also may prime your adolescent’s brain for addiction to other drugs, such as cocaine.

Electric cigarette vapor contains harmful and dangerous chemicals, including:

  • flavorings, such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease
  • heavy metals, such as nickel, tin and lead which pose serious health risks.
  • nicotine. 99.6% of e-cigarette products contain nicotine. The FDA does not regulate these products so even those listed as being nicotine-free may still contain nicotine.
  • ultrafine particles, which can be inhaled deep into your lungs, to cause scarring and popcorn lung
  • volatile organic and non-organic compounds, such as those found in rat poison, car exhaust and antifreeze, and chemicals used to preserve dead tissue, such as arsenic, benzene, glycol and formaldehyde.

While scientists are trying to understand the harmful contents and health effects of e-cigarettes, research on other tobacco products show that nicotine is harmful. Found in all tobacco products and most e-cigarettes, nicotine is addictive, poisonous and can harm your child’s brain development.

The dangers of vapor smoking for adolescents

  • changes to the way brain synapses are formed, which can harm the parts of the brain that control attention and learning
  • mood disorders
  • nicotine addiction
  • permanent lowering of impulse control.

Another risk to consider involves defective e-cigarette batteries that can cause fires and explosions, which have resulted in serious injuries to some vapor smokers. Most of the explosions happened when the e-cigarette batteries were being charged.

 

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