With e-cigarettes on the rise, surgeon general issues warning for kids

Pearl Mccarthy
December 21, 2018

According to a spokesperson with Albuquerque Public Schools, the district bans e-cigarettes but they're updating their policy to cover all of the bases. E-cigarettes have been pushed by manufacturers as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes because it doesn't produce tar. "They don't realize the nicotine can interfere with their brain development, that the sweet flavors don't make the products any less risky", Ryan said.

He said nicotine use while young can increase a person's chances of developing a mental health condition or a cognitive issue like Alzheimer's later in life.

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.

"We need to protect our kids from all tobacco products, including all shapes and sizes of e-cigarettes", Adams said in the advisory.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine which both the Minnesota Department of Health and CDC report harms brain development, meaning learning, memory and attention capabilities can be adversely affected.

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

"Although e-cigs generally contain fewer toxicants than combustible tobacco products, they can expose users to harmful chemicals in addition to nicotine", he added.

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The latest federal figures show that 3.6 million teens use e-cigarettes, which works out to 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students, the AP reported. Most devices heat a flavored nicotine solution into an inhalable vapor.

Adams singled out Silicon Valley startup Juul.

Juul now has a 70 percent share in the cartridge-based e-cigarette market in U.S. An e-cigarette cartridge, or pod, can hold the same amount of nicotine as a regular pack of 20 cigarettes.

Another selling point of e-cigarettes is that they can be used in many settings where smoking is prohibited. 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.

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

"One of the most commonly sold USB flash drive shaped e-cigarettes is JUUL, which experienced a 600 percent surge in sales during 2016-2017, giving it the greatest market share of any e-cigarette in the U.S.by the end of 2017", the advisory said.

The company's move came after the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes to young people.

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