As I sit here and write this column, I am sure some of the information below will have changed or updated. That is the nature of the topic I am about to cover. So if something happened over the past week, sorry about that but I am glad you are keeping updated.
Anyway, allow me to start with a little bit of a backgrounder.
Vaping has been around for over a decade, but vaping's popularity exploded in 2017, taking many families, schools and healthcare providers by surprise. Vaping, or Juuling (named after a popular vape device called JUUL), is the inhaling and exhaling of an aerosol produced using a vape device.
Nearly one in three high school seniors tried vaping in the past year.1 With advertising geared toward teens and young adults, devices designed to attract attention and thousands of flavors to choose from, the expectation is that growth will continue.
For every story touting the benefits of vaping, there is an equal number raising concerns about its risks. The information here and in the accompanying vaping guide is meant to help you understand vaping, its appeal to youth and what research has to say about the known and unknown risks.
So what exactly is vaping. Vape devices, known as e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, vape pens, vapes, tank systems and Juuls, contain four basic components: a cartridge or tank to hold e-liquid (or e-juice/vape sauce), a heating element known as an atomizer, a battery and a mouthpiece to inhale. A sensor detects when a person is trying to inhale. This triggers the battery to supply electricity to the atomizer. The heat given off vaporizes the e-liquid. The resulting vapor is what is inhaled.
Some vape devices mimic cigarettes, cigars or pipes while others resemble USB sticks and other everyday objects like a guitar pick. Larger devices like tank systems, or "mods," look more like a small cell phone. Some devices are disposable while others can be recharged and refilled.
Many substances can be vaped, but the most common are variations of flavored e-liquids which come in small bottles or pre-filled pods or cartridges.
Vaping was intended to be a less harmful option for adult smokers, but enticing flavors combined with the power of social media to set off trends like "cloud competitions" (think smoke rings and other exhaling tricks) have made it attractive to many teens and young adults.Is Vaping Safe? The short answer is no, vaping is not considered safe for teens and young adults, especially since their brains are still in a period of active development.
Vaping is a relatively new phenomenon so long-term studies of its impact on young adult health and behavior have yet to be conducted. The most comprehensive research to date is a report commissioned by Congress from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Released in January 2018, the report looked at exposure to nicotine and other toxic substances, dependence, harm reduction, smoking risks, cancer and more. A coup0le of key findings:
Recently, the Trump Administration announced that as part of its ongoing work to tackle the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, the FDA intends to finalize a compliance policy that would prioritize the agency's enforcement of the premarket authorization requirements for non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol, clearing the market of unauthorized, non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products. The FDA plans to share more on the specific details of the plan and its implementation soon.
I am hopeful that recently issued public health advisories including those by the Surgeon General, and by governors and other health officials will signal a new beginning to educating the country on the serious physical and mental health consequences associated with today's commercially produced marijuana-infused products. For years vapes, dabs, and waxes have addicted, endangered and injured our children and young adults. The problems and injuries are growing exponentially as the potency, use and normalization of pot have grown exponentially.
Vaping was introduced to the general public supposedly as a strategy to stop smoking tobacco and to recover from an addiction to nicotine. Although there may be some utility to using a vape product to eliminate tobacco use and nicotine addiction, the observable reality is that the vape industry is now a predatory industry on teens and young adults and is doing much more harm to the public health than it is providing tobacco use cessation.
As a parent or caregiver you need to make sure you are up-to-date on this latest assault on our youth. Stay alert. Stay educated. Be vigilant.
If you would like more information, check out our website at https://wellspringpevention.org or give us a call at 732-254-3344.