Most people have heard about e-cigarettes, but many are unaware of what e-cigarettes are and how harmful these can be to our health. This article will address some concerns.

Using an e-cigarette is also called vaping or “Juuling.” E-cigarettes were intended for adult use as a smoking cessation product, though have not been shown to be safe or effective as an FDA-approved tobacco cessation product. While e-cigarettes do not contain the carcinogens created by smoking tobacco, e-cigarette liquid contains many, harmful substances, including cancer-causing agents and heavy metals, such as nickel, tin and lead. Studies have shown e-cigarette vapor to involuntarily expose nonusers to nicotine and can generate indoor air pollution.

E-cigarette vapor has ultra-fine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs and cause serious lung damage. Airways can become irreversibly scarred and constricted, causing impaired breathing. The keyword being IRREVERSIBLE.

The long-term effect of e-cigarette use is not yet known. In 2016, the FDA was given authority to regulate e-cigarette use, but has allowed e-cigarette manufactures to postpone applications for FDA approval until August of 2022. This is important to keep in mind. As you may recall, the tobacco industry was successful in withholding the effects of smoking cigarettes for many years, during which time many health issues could have been prevented.

The bright colors and flavors of e-liquid, such as cotton candy, gummy bear and margarita, are aimed at attracting young people. Use of e-cigarettes among students increased by 78% last year.

The Juul is currently the most popular e-cigarette in the United States and is the most popular among school-aged children and young adults. The Juul looks like a USB drive, which makes it easy to hide from adults. No experience is necessary to use the Juul. There are no settings to regulate or control. Users just place it to their mouth and inhale the vapor. They are able to take a hit and blow the odorless, barely visible puff of smoke into their jacket or shirt in a matter of seconds. A local high school student reported seeing vaping “all the time” in the bathroom, and also in hallways and classrooms. Parents and teachers are unable to stay on top of it because students can use Juuls very discreetly.

The Juul contains the highest amount of nicotine than any e-cigarette. Each pod contains, roughly the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. Teens are often using multiple pods in one sitting. They are unknowingly exposed to unsafe levels of nicotine that can have immediate and long-term effects. Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs that exist. It is about as addictive as cocaine and even more addictive than alcohol and anti-anxiety drugs.

There is no safe level of nicotine exposure for adolescents and children. In youth, nicotine can damage brain development, which continues to develop until around the age 25. Nicotine is linked to learning, memory, attention and behavioral troubles. Young people are becoming addicted to nicotine at an alarming rate. Most end up using daily and when they stop or do not have access to e-cigarettes, they have nicotine withdrawal.

Stress and irritation are common symptoms of early nicotine withdrawal. Other symptoms are coughing, cold and flu symptoms, lack of concentration, extreme tiredness, massive increase in appetite, sore throat, headaches, and insomnia. You may notice extreme changes in mood, including sudden and irrational outbursts. Psychological symptoms can worsen if experiencing insomnia, leading to bouts of anxiety and depression

Be aware of the signs of vaping. Be on the lookout for devices that look like flash drives. While the scent is faint, you may catch a whiff of flavoring where there appears to be no other source. Some e-cigarettes have the effect of drying out the mouth and nasal passages. You may see increased intake of liquids and nose bleeds. E-cigarettes can also cause coughs, sore throats, abdomen pain, nausea and vomiting.

While e-cigarettes were intended for adult use, it has become an epidemic among our youth. Parents need to speak with their children about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

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