E-cigarettes are threatening the health of our teens

Star Herald Editorial

The tobacco industry is using e-cigarettes to draw new customers, and youth tobacco use in Minnesota has increased for the first time in 17 years.

E-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid usually has nicotine and flavoring in it, and other additives.

Their rise in popularity among youth is partly attributed to the fact that they’re easy to conceal (they look like an ink pen or a flash drive) and the inhalant has little or no odor.

If you don’t think kids in Luverne schools are using them, ask any teacher or school staff member and they’ll attest to the fact that the practice is alive and well in the hallways, restrooms and even in the classrooms of LHS.

The nicotine in e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes is addictive, and the products are considered tobacco products because most of them contain nicotine, which comes from tobacco.

According to the U.S. surgeon general, e-cigarettes are a rapidly emerging and diversified product class.

These devices typically deliver nicotine, flavorings, and other additives to users via an inhaled aerosol. These devices are referred to by a variety of names, including e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, vape pens, vapes and tank systems.

A dramatic increase in e-cigarette use, now called an epidemic by the U.S. surgeon general, has disrupted a downward trend in youth tobacco use overall.

Nicotine harms the adolescent brain and may prime young brains for addiction. Youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.

And today’s e-cigarettes can deliver very high levels of nicotine … but youth often don’t know they contain nicotine at all.

Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including:

•ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs.

•flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease.

•volatile organic compounds.

•heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead.

E-cigarette aerosol is not safe and threatens Minnesota’s clean indoor air. An overwhelming majority of Minnesotans (81 percent) support expanding protected areas to prohibit e-cigarette use in indoor public places.

But currently only 50 percent of Minnesotans are protected from e-cigarettes where smoking is already prohibited.

E-cigarettes are not proven to be better for quitting than existing programs, and everyone — especially parents — needs to be aware of the products and their risks.

More information can be found at clearwaymn.org and https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov.

 

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