ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — E-cigarettes are addicting teenagers to nicotine.
Teenage use of electronic cigarettes (EC) has reached epidemic proportions. In 2011, fewer than 3 percent of high school seniors used ECs. In the past 12 months the number has increased to 37 percent, up from 28 percent in 2017. The epidemic has been fueled by the Juul, a stylish EC that has captured more than 70 percent of the market. The Juul company is being investigated for aggressively promoting to teenagers. Even if it stops, the damage has been done, Juul’s wild popularity will continue to addict teenagers.
ECs, unlike cigarettes, are a pleasant way for kids to start using tobacco products. Unlike cigarettes, from the first puff they taste good with bubble gum, fruit medley and crème brûlée flavors – (the last) clearly directed at geriatric vapers. Flavor is the reason 60 percent of teens start using. More than half do not know ECs contain nicotine, and like their parents, they think they are safe.
Nicotine is a dangerous substance for teens. It can damage the rapidly developing teenage brain, (and) the particulate matter in vapor penetrates deeply into the lungs and can cause damage. Analysis of the liquid and vapor demonstrates carcinogens. Second-hand vaping exposes bystanders to carcinogens. We are just learning the potential harms of EC use to the user and the public. We do not know that ECs are safer than cigarettes and will take years to find out.
E-cigarettes are a gateway drug to smoking cigarettes. Kids who vape are two to four times more likely to smoke cigarettes one year after starting vaping. Based on cigarette research, we know that waiting to age 21 without smoking makes it unlikely (someone) will ever start. The same likely applies to E-cigarettes.