Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

The dangers of vaping

 

August 29, 2019



Minnesota's Department of Health is warning parents and teens about serious lung damage due to vaping, reported Amanda Casady of the American Lung Association at a program about e-cigarettes and vaping at the Moose Lake Public Library on Monday, August 19.

Vaping refers to the use of e-cigarettes, an electronic device that uses nicotine-laden juice to produce the same hit cigarette, cigar, and pipe smokers get from the use of tobacco.

“Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of disease and death,” she told the two people in attendance at the poorly-attended program.

“The use of tobacco for people between the ages of 18 and 24 dropped by almost half between 2014 and 2018,” said Casady. “But the use of e-cigarettes almost doubled in the same amount of time.

“We see TV commercials about cereal, for example. The food companies entice young people to eat different flavors. The tobacco companies also have been watching those commercials. They use flavors to attract young people to use e-cigarettes.”

Casady reported that in a 2016 student survey, the latest data that they had, reported that by age 16, 50 percent of students had tried e-cigarettes.

“Almost 30 percent of students in 11th grade used the products,” she said. “Those numbers are prior to JUUL coming onto the market. We expect to see a significant jump in those numbers after the next survey is completed.”

Ali Mueller of Carlton County Public Health was present at the program and said that another Bridge to Health survey is currently under way. The data from the survey will be available later this year.

Some of the e-cigarettes look like computer equipment.

“There are also mod boxes,” said Casady. “Those modify the e-cigarettes so you can crank up the voltage and get a bigger hit of nicotine.”

Casady spoke about cloud-chasing competitions, where people could go and compete against others in making artistic smoke rings and other vapor cloud formations.

But the competitions can also be done on social media, she said.

It was once thought that the e-cigarettes were harmless. Tobacco users turned to e-cigarettes when they were trying to quit.

“There is nicotine in both cigarettes and e-cigarettes,” she said. “The smokers found that their habit was not affected. They would go back to smoking cigarettes or some would use both cigarettes and e-cigarettes.”

Casady said that there is no water in polypropylene glycol, an ingredient in the liquid used in e-cigarettes, and it is known to be a lung irritant. There are other chemicals, such as formaldehyde, that are harmful in e-cigarettes. Cancer-causing agents, such as heavy metals, can also be found in e-cigarettes.

“It is not just fruit flavorings and water,” said Casady. “Those fruit flavors are approved for use in foods, not for inhalation.”

Casady explained that the JUUL e-cigarettes came on the market more recently.

“They were invented by two Standford graduates that started an electronics company,” she explained. “They had this idea for e-cigarettes and used the brand name, JUUL. A tobacco company bought into their company.”

“JUUL e-cigarettes have almost the same hit of nicotine as a cigarette. There is quite a bit of investigation going on with JUUL.”

Manufacturers of e-cigarettes use deception to market their products and provide deceptive means for users to hide their use.

Fruit flavors attract young people to use the products, and the e-cigarettes are shaped like pens or computer flash drives or hardware to make it easier for young people to hide them from teachers or parents.

Casady showed the website for a compnay that sells hoodies that hide e-cigarrette devices in the ends of the drawstrings. She explained that a student can be sitting in class vaping on the end of the ties and then blow the vapor into the shirt or sleeve.

If another student or teacher questions the flavor in that area, the student could just explain that it was a fragrance of hand lotion or the shampoo that they had used.

“The tobacco companies also use influencers to entice people to use the e-cigarettes,” said Casady. “They put videos out on social media. Videos that explain that a flavor like vanilla cupcake has zero calories is intended to target young girls who don't want to gain weight.”

With the stories on the news about the harmful effects of vaping, people are becoming more aware of the dangers.

“The bottom line is that there is a lot of nicotine in these products,” Casady concluded. “Just nicotine alone is very damaging to the developing teen brain. We're concerned about what is happening with this generation of kids. These products create a pathway in the brain for addiction. It will be interesting to see what happens to the users down the road.”

For more information about the dangers of using nicotine products, visit the Surgeon General's website at E-cigarettes.SurgeonGeneral.gov.

 

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