Vaping at epidemic levels among teens

"This is a big public health problem. It's very alarming."

Sheletta Brundidge
December 30, 2018 - 5:08 pm

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As if talking to your teenager about the dangers of drinking alcohol, using drugs, and distracted driving weren’t enough, here is one more thing for parents to worry about: vaping.

The Food and Drug Administration commissioner says e-cigarette use is at epidemic levels among high school students.

According to a new survey, more than 1 in 5 teens say they have vaped nicotine in the past month.

That’s nearly double the number of adolescents who were using electronic cigarettes this time last year.

How can you help your child understand the health risks associated with smoking nicotine of any kind?

Sheletta and Lindy of the Two Haute Mamas podcast needed some insight before they talked to their own teenagers about the dangers of vaping.

The ladies turned to Dr. Irina Stepanov, PhD with the University of Minnesota to get some insight.

Dr. Stepanov is an associate professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences. Her primary research focuses on tobacco carcinogenesis and the cancer risk caused by tobacco use.

She says e-cigarette use among teens is a major public health problem, “Kids are using more and more. We just got a report over the past year alone that shows the number of kids using electronic cigarettes has doubled. That’s the most dramatic increase we’ve seen in cigarette use in many decades. It’s very alarming.”

What makes vaping more dangerous, according to Dr. Stepanov, is not just inhaling nicotine, but all the other chemicals involved, “And when all these mixtures converse into aerosols, it becomes even more complex. What’s in the liquid decomposes and it becomes a different chemical that the kids are smoking.”

She says vaping poses long term health risks for young people which could affect their brain function and behavior.

Sadly, Dr. Stepanov says this recent craze is like déjà vu all over again, “It’s almost like history is repeating itself.  When we were talking about cigarette smoking in the 1950s and 60s, kids became addicted before they could understand the risks that smoking posed to their health. Then by the time they became adults, they wanted to quit but couldn’t, because by then they are biologically dependent on smoking.”

She says that addiction was fueled primarily by the nicotine.

But Dr. Stepanov doesn't want to demonize vaping. For adults who want to quit smoking cigarettes, she says vaping can be helpful, "For those people who are addicted to smoking regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes could be a good thing. If someone has been smoking all their lives and they switch, they are doing much better with e-cigarettes. Even though e-cigarettes contain nicotine, it's less than regular cigarette smoke."

To hear the entire conversation and get tips on how to talk to your kids about the dangers of using vaping devices, click on link to the Two Haute Mamas podcast episode below…