Published: Fri, December 21, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Teen e-cigarette use spikes

Teen e-cigarette use spikes

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Tuesday issued a rare advisory, calling for aggressive steps against e-cigarette use among teens, which he said has become an "epidemic".

"We have never seen use of any substance by America's young people rise this rapidly", Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at the briefing. "Nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm the developing brain which continues to develop until about age 25".

In all, more than 3.6 million USA youth, including one in 20 middle school students, now use e-cigarettes.

The surgeon general's advisory called on parents and teachers to educate themselves about the variety of e-cigarettes and to talk with children about their dangers.

Researchers found a dramatic increase among high schoolers, with 75 percent more this year than last year saying, yes, they have used e-cigarettes. According to the latest federal data, the percentage of high school age children reporting e-cigarette use in the past 30 days rose 75 percent from a year ago. Juul, the most popular vape product by far among teens, offers no nicotine-free flavors.

E-cigarettes are handheld devices that induce the feeling of smoking by delivering nicotine, flavorings and other additives to the user through an inhaled aerosol. "Everyone can play an important role in protecting our nation's young people from the risks of e-cigarettes". Health professionals should ask about e-cigarettes when screening patients for tobacco use, the advisory said.

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"We included e-cigarettes and vaping devices in the policy because nicotine in any form is highly addictive", said Cerri Banks, dean of students at the college. The company leapfrogged over its larger competitors with online promotions portraying their small device as the latest high-tech gadget for hip, attractive young people.

The surgeon general said each Juul cartridge contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. Analysts now estimate the company controls more than 75 percent of the US e-cigarette market. That correlation strongly suggests that young people who would otherwise be smoking are vaping instead, which represents a huge improvement in terms of health risks.

Last month, Juul shut down its Facebook and Instagram accounts and halted in-store sales of its flavored pods.

In a statement the company said: "We are committed to preventing youth access to Juul products".

Adams said many teenagers think that e-cigarette vapor poses no danger.

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