Teen Vaping: It’s Still a Public Health Crisis

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“In November 2022, FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released federal data from the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey on youth tobacco use in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Tobacco Product Use among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2022. Findings show that in 2022, more than 1 in 10 middle and high school students, or 3.08 million, had used a tobacco product during the past 30 days, including 16.5 percent of high school and 4.5 percent of middle school students.”

That’s a quote from the Federal Drug Administration summarizing the results of the National Youth Tobacco Survey data collected between January and May 2022 through an online survey among U.S. middle school, grades 6-8, and high school, grades 9-12, students. Before 2021, the survey was completed in a classroom setting. Changes in methodology, survey administration and data collection procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic allowed all eligible students in 2022 to participate in a classroom or at home during a designated class period as part of a class activity.
The statistics are eye-popping. More than two million high school students and 380,000 middle school students in the survey reported current e-cigarette use. Eighty-five percent of users preferred flavored e-cigarettes; fruit flavors are the most popular, followed by candy, desserts or other sweets. Twenty-eight percent use an e-cigarette every day, more than 40 percent of youth users report using them at least 20 of the last 30 days. Disposables are the most commonly used devices, followed by prefilled or refillable pods or cartridges.

Harm to Health
At about age 11 for girls and 14 for boys, the brain has generally reached its physical maturity. However, the brain, the center of sensation and intellect, will continue to develop into its owner’s mid to late 20s, building synapses that act as bridges between brain cells, allowing the mastery of skills more easily than in later adulthood.

Addiction can happen just as quickly. The types of brain changes caused by the nicotine in tobacco products such as e-cigarettes can rewire the teen brain to crave the substance and create a nicotine addiction that may have long-lasting effects on attention, learning and memory.

Vaping is easy and usually accessible; this puts teens at increased risk of smoking or using other addictive substances. If a teen stops vaping, they can experience withdrawal symptoms that include strong cravings, irritability, fatigue, headache, sleeplessness and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms are hard to ignore and can drive a teen back to the nicotine product.

On June 23, 2022, the FDA issued a marketing denial order for all JUUL products sold in the United States. On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit entered a temporary administrative stay of the marketing denial order for Juul Labs Inc. On July 5, 2022, FDA administratively stayed the marketing denial order but did not rescind it. The website notes, “All electronic nicotine delivery systems, or ENDS products, including those made by JUUL, are required by law to have FDA authorization to be legally marketed.”

While governmental agencies exercise their protective legal authorities, it’s still up to all of us who have preteens, teens and young adults in our lives to discuss the dangers and health effects of vaping with them. Model healthy habits and create a tobacco-free home. Know the symptoms of nicotine addiction, such as an inability to stop vaping or feeling anxious or irritable due to cravings when not vaping. Most of all, don’t let vaping get in the way of your family’s health.

Sources: theatlantic.com, apnews.com, health.harvard.edu, epa.gov, nj.gov and cdc.gov.


What Could Be in Your Vape Solution?
• Formaldehyde: Toxic effects via inhalation are eye, nose and throat irritation and effects on the nasal cavity, coughing, wheezing, chest pains and bronchitis.
• Acrolein: Exposure can damage the vascular system, alter DNA and potentially cause cancer.
• Acetaldehyde: Inhaling this byproduct of vaporized liquid can cause lung injury and COPD.
• Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin: both are toxic to cells; the more ingredients in an e-liquid, the greater the toxicity.
• Crotonaldehyde: It’s a colorless, flammable liquid and a potent eye, skin and respiratory irritant that when inhaled can cause a burning sensation in the nasal and upper respiratory tract, lacrimation, coughing, bronchoconstriction, pulmonary edema and deep lung damage.
• Acrylonitrile: Exposure can irritate the lungs, cause pulmonary edema, weakness, headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, vomiting and can lead to death.
• Propylene Oxide: This flammable and reactive chemical is a carcinogen; contact can severely irritate and burn the skin and eyes, nose, throat and lungs. High exposure can cause pulmonary edema.
• Secondhand emissions: The U.S. Surgeon General and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine have warned about the risks of inhaling secondhand e-cigarette emissions created when an e-cigarette user exhales the chemical cocktail created by e-cigarettes.