Vaping and Youth: Risks and Impact on Young Adults
Vaping and Youth: Risks and Impact on Young Adults
E-cigarettes pose significant risks to kids, teens, and young adults as they typically contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals. Many young people who use e-cigarettes develop nicotine addiction, which can adversely impact adolescent brain development well into young adulthood. Furthermore, e-cigarette users may be more likely to transition to tobacco cigarettes later in life.
Is Juuling Like Vaping E-cigarettes?
JUULs are just one type of e-cigarette available, along with vapes and hookah pens. All e-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid, often called "vape juice," "e-liquid," or "e-juice." Almost all e-juice contains nicotine in varying concentrations, and e-cigarettes produce an aerosol from the e-juice.
JUULs are e-cigarettes that contain nicotine. In fact, JUUL pods have a nicotine content equivalent to a pack of tobacco cigarettes. JUULs produce a thin aerosol cloud, but their effects are similar to other e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes Are Banned in Schools
In most states, the minimum age to purchase e-cigarettes is 18, while in some states, it is 21. Most schools have banned e-cigarettes, just as they have prohibited tobacco smoking on school grounds.
E-cigarette manufacturers employ creative tactics to attract vapers. For example, flavored e-cigarettes can be enticing. Surveys indicate that at least two-thirds of young people are drawn to fruit or menthol-flavored e-cigarettes. Initially, these sweet flavors may seem innocuous, but over time, young people become addicted to the nicotine in e-cigarettes, much like previous generations did with tobacco cigarettes.
E-cigarettes Are Highly Addictive
Many e-cigarettes, including JUULs and other vaping brands, contain high levels of nicotine. Nicotine addiction from e-cigarettes is on par with tobacco smoking. Consequently, many young people struggle to focus or concentrate on school or other activities. The addiction interferes with getting adequate sleep and triggers the same jittery or nervous reactions experienced due to nicotine withdrawal.
Unfortunately, young people can more easily conceal their e-cigarette use since the smell is typically less potent, and the smoke is less noticeable than tobacco smoke. Additionally, e-cigarettes come in enticing packaging and flavors. Underage individuals can easily order vaping devices online, and the easy access is tempting, especially since vaping is perceived as safer than tobacco cigarette smoking.
Chemicals in E-cigarettes and Their Impact
E-cigarettes also contain other chemicals in the e-juice when vaporized. These chemicals are believed to cause cancer, and there have been numerous cases of severe lung problems resulting from vaping in young adults.
For example, a lung injury outbreak was linked to e-cigarettes in 2020. A total of 2,807 hospitalized cases were caused by e-cigarette product use-associated lung injury at the peak of the outbreak, with 68 deaths. Over half of those hospitalized were under the age of 24 and predominantly male. It was discovered that many of the e-cigarettes responsible for the outbreak contained vitamin E acetate, an additive found in some THC-containing e-cigarettes.
Vaping and Vitamin E Acetate
The CDC and FDA advise against using THC-containing vaping products. The primary reasons for the decline in use are public awareness associated with some e-cigarettes containing THC. The issue is that some young adolescents use bootleg products with unknown and unpredictable ingredients. In some instances, vitamin E acetate and THC are present in vaping products.
Vitamin E acetate should not be present in e-cigarettes. One problem is that young people sometimes struggle to find out or do not take the time to learn the ingredients in the e-cigarette they are vaping. The risks associated with using e-cigarettes containing vitamin E acetate include severe lung injury, which can be life-threatening. Additionally, inhaling vitamin E acetate can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing.
Quitting e-cigarettes can be challenging due to nicotine addiction, but there are various resources available to help young people quit. Support from friends, family, and healthcare professionals is essential. Some methods to help quit e-cigarettes include:
- Nicotine replacement therapy: Patches, gums, and lozenges containing nicotine can help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
- Behavioral support: Counseling, therapy, or support groups can help develop strategies to resist cravings and cope with stress.
- Prescription medications: Certain medications, such as varenicline (Chantix) and bupropion (Zyban), can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
- Smartphone apps and online resources: These tools can provide additional support and encouragement throughout the quitting process.
It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any quitting method to ensure it is safe and appropriate.
Vaping and e-cigarette use among young people is a public health concern. The risks associated with e-cigarette use, including addiction and lung injuries, should be taken seriously. Schools, communities, and public health organizations should collaborate to educate young people about the dangers of e-cigarette use and promote prevention and cessation programs. Parents and guardians should also be vigilant about their children's e-cigarette use and communicate the risks associated with vaping.