The epidemic of e-cigarette use has taken on an immediacy as a result of 1,479 reported cases of serious lung injuries and 33 deaths.
The early warning came from the largely ignored 2016 Surgeon General’s report where he warned of the massive increase in the number of teens using e-cigarettes. The concerns about the toxicity of long-term nicotine use on the teenage brain, increased cardiac risk and that e-cigarette use by teenagers made it three or four times more likely that they would start smoking cigarettes did not catch the public’s attention until the current pulmonary disaster.
We now have a public health crisis that most likely emanates from the electronically heated flavored liquid that becomes aerosolized. The flavored “juice” contains many known toxic chemicals, THC and unknown ingredients.
Surveys of teen users of e-cigarettes say flavors are a principle reason they start using them. One study found that 75% of teen e-cigarette users would quit if flavors were removed. Removing flavors will not only reduce the likelihood of pulmonary toxicity; fewer teens will start using, and fewer will get addicted.
The other reason teens said they use them is they believe they are safer. A recent statement by the FDA says that is false. The FDA chastised JUUL, the largest producer of e-cigarettes, for making such a claim. The FDA has not approved them as a method for quitting cigarettes.