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You are here: Home / Health / E-Cigs a 'Major Health Concern'
E-Cigarettes Are a 'Major Public Health Concern'
E-Cigarettes Are a 'Major Public Health Concern'
By Karen Kaplan Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus

Electronic cigarettes have all the addictive potential of traditional tobacco products, and health officials should do all they can to keep them out of the hands of teens and young adults, according to the federal government's first comprehensive review of e-cigarettes.

The report released Thursday by the U.S. surgeon general focuses on Americans under the age of 25, the cohort that has embraced e-cigarettes with the most enthusiasm. Teens and young adults are more likely to be using the vaping devices than people in any other age group. Indeed, among middle and high school students, e-cigarettes have become more popular than traditional cigarettes.

These trends are alarming to public health officials for several reasons. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been warning for years that e-cigarettes have the potential to get kids hooked on nicotine, paving the way for them to "graduate" to regular smoking and setting themselves up for a lifetime of addiction. About 90% of adult smokers say they started smoking as teens.

Plus, mounting scientific evidence suggests the adolescent brain is uniquely vulnerable to the harmful effects of nicotine. Among other problems, nicotine exposure can lead to "reduced impulse control, deficits in attention and cognition, and mood disorders," Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, wrote in a preface to the report.

Put it all together, and "e-cigarette use among U.S. youth and young adults is now a major public health concern," Murthy wrote.

In 2011, when the National Youth Tobacco Survey began tracking e-cigarette use, fewer than 5% of middle and high school students said they had tried the devices. By 2015, more than 1 in 10 middle schoolers and 1 in 3 high schoolers had used them at least once, according to the survey

Many of these students are vaping on a regular basis. Last year, 16% of high school students used e-cigarettes at least once in the 30 days before they took the survey, up from 1.5% in 2011. That 16% translates into 2.4 million teens. In addition, 5.3% of middle school students -- or 620,000 younger adolescents -- vaped at least once in the month before they were surveyed.

Among young adults 18 to 25, 55% of electronic cigarette users also smoke regular cigarettes, according to CDC data from 2013 and 2014. Although older smokers often use e-cigarettes to help them kick the habit, this is not a common practice for young adults, the report says.

Americans spent an estimated $3.5 billion on e-cigarette products last year, a 40% increase from the year before. Purveyors of e-cigarettes have lured their young customers by using the same tactics once employed by Big Tobacco, including ads highlighting themes like freedom and sex, according to the report. E-cigarettes appeal to teens and young adults because they heat liquids with flavors like mint chocolate and milk and cookies.

They also benefit from the perception that vaping is safer than smoking. That may be true, but the devices are far from harmless, the report emphasizes.

"E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless 'water vapor,' " the report says. "Users of e-cigarettes risk respiratory exposure to a variety of aerosolized chemicals," including several known to cause cancer.

The nearly 300-page report from the surgeon general doesn't include much new data on e-cigarette use or the health risks they present. But it does include a research agenda to help fill gaps in knowledge. Among the most pressing questions: Do the chemicals in e-cigarette liquids become more dangerous when heated? To what degree are those chemicals absorbed into the bloodstream? Could changes in product design minimize the risk?

On the epidemiology front, long-term studies of teens and young adults are needed to determine whether e-cigarettes really do make people more likely to take up smoking or if they take the place of traditional cigarettes, among other questions.

Even before all the answers are in, there are things health officials can do in the name of protecting young people, the report says.

One of the biggies is to allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate how e-cigarettes are manufactured, marketed and sold. The FDA has announced its intention to prohibit sales of e-cigarettes to minors, ban free samples of vaping products and mandate health warnings about the nicotine, among other measures. The FDA says it has this authority under the Tobacco Control Act, but the matter is currently tied up in court.

State and local governments should extend smoking bans to include electronic cigarettes, even indoors, the surgeon general argues. Meanwhile, health officials should educate pediatricians, teachers, coaches and parents so they can help teens and young adults steer clear of the devices.

"We know a great deal about what works to effectively prevent tobacco use among young people," the report says. "Now we must apply these strategies to e-cigarettes."

© 2017 Los Angeles Times under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.
Tell Us What You Think


Posted: 2016-12-14 @ 5:21pm PT
Yet marijuana is perfectly okay. Give me a break.

Posted: 2016-12-11 @ 4:57am PT
We find it hard to believe government warnings after about 8 decades of lying about cannabis!

Erik Vos:
Posted: 2016-12-11 @ 4:29am PT
Very poorly wrritten article.
It says that it is a major health risk because 30% of the people do it.
Then it says that it might cause resperaratory problems.
This is a potential health risk.

Posted: 2016-12-11 @ 4:25am PT
Did you know that eating carrots are bad? Sure they are. Here is proof; In 1974, Basil Brown, a 48-year-old health food advocate from Croydon, drank himself to death with carrot juice.
This is how the CDC and the surgeon general do business.
"We think it's bad, so it must be, regardless if we haven't the reason, just speculation".

Vape Scaped:
Posted: 2016-12-11 @ 4:19am PT
"we don't know the effects, so they should be banned"

I figure all the big tobacco owned attorney generals (look up the master settlement agreement of 1999, AGs in 41 states agreed to regular payments to the states in exchange for no more legal actions against them-corruption at it's best.) The ags have another 5 years of this "we don't know" defense, and when there is still no long term effects, big tobacco will have to come up with some new fear mongering propaganda.

Massachusetts gets about 2 cents per unit sold, on top of taxes, to keep the lawsuits at bay. The government loses money, LOSES MONEY, if people quit smoking. Why would I believe anything they say?

Posted: 2016-12-11 @ 4:09am PT
The flavoring is what can be dangerous, be careful not to get generics from China. Years of hell as I thought it was safe and abused it till I had severe breathing problems. I thought it was safe, not for me. Still trying to recover. I did abuse them and vaped constantly, months later lots of damage, be careful to make sure you trust the manufacturer. Nobody really knows crap about the artificial flavoring inhaled, I do. If you don't believe me, don't care, I warned you.

flawed study:
Posted: 2016-12-11 @ 3:54am PT
The "study" they keep talking about had a little over 1600 kids and they were from one school district and if they answered yes to taking even one hit in the last 30 days they were labeled as a current user.

Posted: 2016-12-11 @ 3:45am PT
Idiotic sjw propaganda. No mention to the fact that above 25, ecig users are ex-smokers. No mention of harm reduction. And no medical findings what so ever. Please refer to the studies posted here by Glen Appleton.

Posted: 2016-12-11 @ 3:36am PT
Anyone who thinks that someone smoking e-cigarettes would want to 'graduate' to regular cigarettes clearly has no idea what it is to smoke either.

Posted: 2016-12-11 @ 2:21am PT
Yes, let's ban the e-cigs as they are an unhealthy alternative to regular ones. Make certain that the destructive nature of teens gets off on the right foot with 2000+ unhealthy chemicals instead of 50 or so. Teens will smoke, drive fast and do stupid stunts, it's built into their DNA. At the age of 15 to 30, they will take risks as they believe themselves to be immortal. So let's make certain that they pay for their poor life choices with proper unhealthy ones. Yay for real tobacco!

Posted: 2016-12-11 @ 2:04am PT
"We know a great deal about what works to effectively prevent tobacco use among young people," the report says. "Now we must apply these strategies to e-cigarettes."

I will admit misrepresenting the facts and outright lying is very effective in the short term. This type of propaganda always eventually fails. In the meantime, kids will use tobacco cigarettes and become addicted instead of using the very safe non-addicting e-cigarette.

. Luke:
Posted: 2016-12-10 @ 2:21am PT
Your fear mongering is weak. All those studies are debunked as being shortsighted. The record stands for itself: 1 person dead every 60 seconds in America. People killed from vaping in the last 10 years? 0. People killed from others spreading misinformation????? There's bigger problems in the world than people getting healthy. Stop riding coat tails and stand on your own 2 feet.

Glen Appleton:
Posted: 2016-12-09 @ 8:40am PT
And for some actual context on the subject:

Title: Bad science, poor insights and likely to do harm - rapid reaction to the Surgeon General's terrible e-cigarette report
Author: Clive Bates, former Director General in the Welsh Government and current progressive policy advocate

Title: Surgeon General’s Report on E-Cigarettes is Scientifically Dishonest
Author: Dr. Michael Siegel, Professor of Community Health Sciences, Boston University

Title: US Surgeon General declares e-cigarettes are a public health concern. But where is the evidence of harm?
Author: Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, Research Fellow, Onassis Cardiac Surgery Greece, Department of Pharmacology, University of Patras, Greece

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