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To the Editor:
Re: “We Still Don’t Know How Safe Vaping Is” Published Sept. 5th, 2019
The Editorial Board warns of frightening number of deaths and serious illnesses that have stricken teenage vapers. E-cigarettes are unsafe for teens and young adults and should be banned. Vape can kill or sicken, but even those who escape those immediate dangers will become addicted to nicotine. Young adults who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future. Each time a new memory is created or a new skill is learned, stronger connections or synapses are built between brain cells. Teens build synapses faster than adults. The nicotine in these e-cigarettes changes the synapses that are formed. Using nicotine as a young teen and young adult will increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.
Vapes are filled with many unknown chemicals, where most of these chemicals can cause eye nasal and respiratory tract infections and irritations. Vapes are harmful, just like cigarettes. The nicotine content of one vape pod is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes. Addiction to these products can impact the ability to focus. Also, these products increase heart rate and blood pressure. I had a friend who used to vape and ended up in the emergency room on separate occasions who had these symptoms and ended up with a respiratory tract infection.
Vaping may also lead to cancerous tumor development. E-cigarettes run on batteries and heat up nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. Many chemicals that cause cancer are in this vapor. That includes formaldehyde, heavy metals, and particles that can get stuck in the deepest parts of your lungs. E-cigarettes used during pregnancy can lead to early labor, low birth weight, and even stillbirth. The nicotine can cause placental damage and can cause blood vessels to narrow which means less oxygen and fewer nutrients are getting to the baby. This is very dangerous. It can harm the baby’s brain development and slow down the growth of their lungs. Nicotine used during pregnancy can lead to early labor, low birth weight, and even stillbirth. Banning these e-cigarettes will not only prevent more deaths, cancer and stillbirths, but also prevent teens who haven’t used them, to start using them.
Because they eliminate “smoke,” e-cigarettes are considered safer than tobacco, but it’s false advertising to market them without evidence as “safe.” Used by former smokers to quit tobacco, they have obvious advantages, but because they’re not FDA approved and can contain countless untested ingredients, we can’t even guess why they’re killing our teens so quickly, or addicting those who don’t get rushed to the emergency room. Not to mention teens who start with candy-flavored vape and “graduate” to tobacco cigarettes.
Statistics show that teens are more likely to use e-cigarettes rather than cigarettes, of course. Teens and young adults use e-cigarettes and other vaping products for many reasons. One reason is because a friend or family use or have used them. Another is because of the availability of flavors, such as mint, candy, fruit, etc. Also because of the belief that e-cigarettes are less harmful than other forms of tobacco. Other reasons teens may be using these devices are because they see famous people on TV or movies use them, they are easier to get than other tobacco products, they cost less than other tobacco products and can be used in areas where tobacco products are not allowed.
Parents should familiarize themselves with these e-cigarette and vaping devices to better understand and convey the risks to their kids and so that they are more aware of the hazards. It would seem easy for parents to stop their kids from vaping but they closely resemble flash drives. Detecting e-cigarette use can be difficult. Some products may send off large, obvious plume but many aren’t so noticeable. Teens who use them are really good at hiding them. They can easily blow it into their hoodie or into their sleeve. It’s important for parents to know product brands and what they look like. It’s also important for them to have open and honest discussion with their kids about these products, the potential dangers and why they should not use them.
To start banning e-cigarettes and other vaping products, we should limit tobacco marketing; have regulatory initiatives that ban youth-focused marketing efforts to help cub smoking’s appeal to young people. We should have campaigns that educate teens and help them understand how tobacco companies exploit them and these campaigns should be supported by school and family based programs. We should definitely provide ‘quit smoking’ programs. Affordable and accessible smoking programs can help young smokers quit as well as parents who want to model healthier behavior.