A recent CDC study found that 99% of the electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) sold in assessed venues in the United States contained nicotine. Nicotine is the highly addictive drug in cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products. Using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control. It may also increase the risk for future addiction to other, more dangerous, drugs. Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances and young people who use them may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. Some look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Larger e-cigarettes, such as tank systems, do not look like other tobacco products. Some e-cigarettes look like other commonly used items by youth such as pens, USB flash drives, and other everyday items. E-cigarettes shaped like USB flash drives are popular including the brands, JUUL and PAX Era. PAX Era looks like JUUL but it can be used for marijuana.
The e-cigarette aerosol may look similar to water vapor but it is far from harmless. The e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe in from the device and exhale can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including: nicotine; ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs; diacetyl which is a flavoring chemical linked to a serious lung disease; volatile organic compounds; cancer-causing chemicals; and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead. This aerosol exposes both the user and bystanders to its harmful substances.
The marketing of e-cigarette flavors are appealing to youth. Many e-cigarettes come in fruit, candy, and other kid friendly flavors. A majority of youth e-cigarette users report using flavored varieties and that’s the primary reason they use e-cigarettes. Many youth also report using e-cigarettes because they are curious about these products and they believe these products are less harmful than conventional cigarettes.
What can you do to prevent your child from using e-cigarettes or to help them stop?
- Don’t smoke and don’t expose your child to secondhand emissions.
- If you smoke and want to quit, visit smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
- Talk to your child or teen about why e-cigarettes are harmful.
- Speak with your child’s teacher and school administrator about the enforcement of tobacco-free grounds policies and tobacco prevention curriculum.
Submitted by: Tessa Anderson, Drug Court Coordinator
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