On March 16, 2016, health departments and education partners across the country are celebrating the 10th annual Kick Butts Day, an initiative to empower youth to stand up to the danger of nicotine. While almost all adult smokers first tried cigarettes by age 18, the good news is that teenage cigarette smoking is decreasing nationally. But here is the bad news: e-cigarette use and vaping are dramatically increasing and that’s a disturbing trend to the health and safety of our nation’s young people. Here are some vaping facts:
Teens are vaping at an alarming rate. Due to their stage of brain development, teens become addicted to nicotine faster than adults. E-cigarettes are marketed directly to teens with bright colors and sweet flavors and companies are not yet required to put a health warning on the packaging.
E-cigarettes are unregulated. There are almost 500 brands and 7,700 flavors of e-cigarettes on the market, none of which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That means that the company does not have to tell you what is in the product so you cannot know what is in an e-cigarette or vape pen. The FDA has found that e-cigarettes often contain more nicotine than the label says and contain dangerous chemicals. Even e-cigarettes labeled with “no nicotine” often have nicotine.
Nicotine is poisonous. We all know that nicotine is addictive, however not many people know just how harmful it really is. For teenagers, nicotine is poisonous even in small doses and can disrupt brain development, affect heart rate, and cause stomach irritation.
E-cigarettes are not a good way to quit smoking. Why start another behavior you’ll need to quit? There are other medications and treatments that are proven safe and effective for quitting tobacco. Call the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line at 1-877-270-STOP (7867) to get the support you need to quit smoking – for free.
Check out the National Kick Butts Day website at www.kickbuttsday.org for more information on how to empower youth to make healthy choices for a future free from addiction!
Author: Sarah Neale, MPH, CHES is the Health Communication Coordinator with the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments, where she works to prevent disease and promote health and well-being in the Metro Atlanta community.