A large population of teens have taken to the mistaken belief that using e-cigarettes are harmless.
Even advertisements help promote this belief that e-cigarettes only produce scented water vapor. But the truth is that vaping does not comprise of water and natural ingredients as many teens believe in fact the liquids present in the electric cigarettes contain nicotine, glycerol, flavoring and propylene glycol (found in antifreeze products).
Among teens, electric cigarettes are more popular than any traditional tobacco products. E-cigarettes like other non-combustible forms of tobacco consumption are referred to as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). These devices work by heating the liquids to a high temperature, where they become aerosol containing nicotine other substance which can then inhaled. examples of this devices include vape-pens, box mods, hookahs and JUULS.
JUULs which is one of the most popular e-cigarettes especially in the states came with a change from the conventional electric cigarettes by designing the device in form of a slim cartridge which made it appear like a USB. The device flooded the market when it broke out selling more than 20 million devices in the united states alone. The advancements in E-cigarette design along with its easy availability (online purchases make it easy to get around the age requirements), added flavors (candy, fruit, and bubblegum) and added belief that vaping is safer than smoking regular cigarettes has made E-cigarettes very appealing to youths especially teens in particular.
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In 2017, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) did a study which revealed a 900 per cent increase in e-cigarette among high and middle schoolers. This development was termed an epidemic by the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the trend raises bad news to teen health. A JUUL cartridge is approximated to contain 50mg of nicotine which is almost equivalent to smoking an entire pack of cigarettes.
The nicotine together with the other harmful constituents of the e-cigarette renders the device unsafe for teens and young adults. The reasons being that
• Nicotine is very addictive, like in every cigarette and other nicotine producing products.
• Until about age 25, the brain continues to grow and develop. Therefore, the introduction of Nicotine into a developing adolescent brain can dangerously harm its growth.
• Also, using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control leading to depression and anxiety.
• Each time a new skill is learned or a new memory is created. Synapses are built between brain cells. Nicotine affects the way these synapses are formed.
• e-cigarette flavourings may be safe to eat but not to inhale because the gut can process more substances than the lungs.
• About 90 per cent of people who smoke cigarettes starts before age 19(CDC). Using nicotine in adolescence may increase the risk of lifelong nicotine dependence and future addiction to other drugs.
• Children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing, or absorbing e-cigarette liquid through their skin or eyes.
Effects of E-Cigarettes on Teenage Health
• Nicotine Addiction
The nicotine in e-liquids is highly addictive. In fact, research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin and cocaine because Like other drugs, nicotine releases dopamine in the brain. The effects are immediate on the body. According to Drugfree.org, inhaled nicotine creates a spike in heart rates and pulse, a constriction in the arteries, and blood is shunted away from the heart.
The primary risk to young people is exposure to nicotine and the potential for developing nicotine dependence but using nicotine over an extended period of time can contribute to stomach ulcers, blood clots, and heart disease.
• Brain Risk
The risk to the brain posed by the use of e-cigarette is very dangerous especially in teenagers because their brain is still developing. Their brains are particularly vulnerable to the effects of nicotine because prolonged exposure affects the prefrontal cortex area of the brain changing the way synapses are formed, which can harm the parts of the brain that control attention and learning.
Experts and researchers say that growing use of tobacco products is particularly troubling because of how nicotine interacts with a young person’s developing brain. They explained that their developing brains are particularly sensitive and experience more of a rush from nicotine than older adults and become dependent upon it more quickly.
According to Francis Leslie, a professor of pharmacology at the University of California Irvine, who has studied the effects of nicotine on adolescent brains through animal models for many years. Leslie described that according to data gathered that the adolescent brain is uniquely sensitive to the negative effects of nicotine. This affirms the fact that prolonged use of an e-cigarette in teenagers can impair them for life.
• Behaviour Risks
E-cigarette use among teenagers is strongly linked to the consumption of other tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco.
This suggests that teens who are regular users of nicotine are at higher risk for cognitive reasoning impairment, attention deficits, and developing mental disorders such as:
• Aerosol risk (e-liquid poisoning)
E-cigarette aerosol is NOT harmless “water vapour.” It can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including:
Volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which is found in car exhaust.
Flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease.
Ultra fine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs.
Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.
Researchers from Harvard University studying the e-liquids in e-cigarettes found diacetyl (a flavoring chemical) in most of the devices that were tested. Diacetyl is a manufacturing food chemical used in producing a buttery taste. It was discovered that high exposure to diacetyl could be linked to various respiratory illnesses such as:
Closure of airways
Shortness of breath
Bronchiolitis obliterans (also called popcorn lung, which is irreversible)
• Other Risks
Defective e-cigarette batteries that have been known to cause fires and explosions, some of which have resulted in serious injuries. Most of the explosions happened when the e-cigarette batteries were being charged. According to data published in the Washington Post, e-cigarette use among high school students jumped by 75 per cent between 2017 and 2018. This trend is a piece of disturbing news for teen health. While research continues to uncover many negative side effects of vaping, the use of e-cigarettes among vulnerable teenage populations continues to balloon.
Teen vaping as its commonly called has become a trend and it threatens teenagers mental and physical health. The enlightenment of teens on the potential dangers like addiction and substance abuse is very important if the harmful trend is to be reversed. If a teen wants to stop vaping (using e-cigarette), make sure they have access to professional help for breaking the habit while dealing with the physical and emotional symptoms of withdrawal.
Here are some physical symptoms to be expected are; Bloodshot eyes
Irritability caused by nicotine withdrawal
Increased thirst—dehydration is a common side effect of vaping as a result of the propylene glycol in e-liquid
Nosebleeds—propylene glycol also dries out the inside of the nose
Avoiding caffeine—some e-cigarette users develop a sensitivity to caffeine