E-Cigarettes The Weapon Of Choice

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States; nearly all tobacco product use begins during youth and young adulthood.

In 2018, 27 percent (4.04 million) of high school students and 7.2 percent (840,000) middle school students currently used a tobacco product. E-cigarettes were the most commonly used product. Driven by an increase in e-cigarette use, current tobacco product use significantly increased among high school and middle school students during 2017–2018, erasing the decline in tobacco product use among youths that occurred for several years.

Most teenagers are aware that tobacco use is a leading cause of death. However, this doesn’t stop them from experimenting with tobacco products. Unfortunately, trying tobacco just one time puts a person at risk for addiction to nicotine.

In a world where the tobacco industry is constantly adjusting their strategies to get new users hooked, it can be hard for parents to keep up with all the dangerous forms of tobacco available. Tobacco companies market their products in several forms, and while some may look harmless, all have the potential to cause health problems.

Plus, parents who vape should be know that a very small amount of the liquid nicotine used to refill e-cigarettes can kill a child. The liquid also can be poisonous within minutes if spilled on the skin. A small child died from liquid nicotine poisoning in December 2014. The number of calls to poison control centers about liquid nicotine has spiked in recent years.

“These (refills) are being sold in hundreds of different flavors, including flavors and colors that would be absolutely appealing to kids,” said Kyran Quinlan, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention. “It’s such a small quantity and yet it’s so toxic and so deadly. I don’t think (people) realize what a deadly toxin they have in their house when they have liquid nicotine.”

Children ages 1-2 years are at the greatest risk of getting into the product, but parents of children under age 5 should be especially cautious. The bottles are sold in various sizes, from 10 milliliters (about 2 teaspoons) to more than 30 milliliters (about 6 teaspoons) and come in a variety of nicotine strengths. A teaspoon of concentrated liquid nicotine can be fatal for the average 26-pound toddler.

Liquid Nicotine Poisoning Symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Jittery and unsteady appearance
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased saliva

If you suspect your child was exposed to liquid nicotine that was spilled on the skin or swallowed, call the Poison Center hotline: 800-222-1222 immediately.

smoking and teenagers

Facts About Smoking and Vaping

Health problems caused by tobacco use include tooth decay, damaged metabolism, frequent coughing, increased phlegm, decreased physical fitness, and breathing problems.

  • 90% of daily tobacco users begin by age 18.
  • In 2014, 25% of high school students reported current use of a tobacco product, including 13% who reported current use of two or more tobacco products.
  • Types of tobacco products used by high school students include: e-cigarettes, hookah, cigarettes, cigars (including small cigars or cigarillos like Swisher Sweets or Black and Milds), smokeless tobacco, pipes, snus, bidis, and dissolvable tobacco.
  • Factors that can influence tobacco use are:
  • Use of tobacco products by friends or family members
  • Lack of parental support or involvement
  • Accessibility, availability, and price of tobacco products
  • Low levels of academic achievement
  • Low self-esteem
  • Exposure to tobacco advertising (including in movies, TV, or video games)

Electronic nicotine devices can look like a pen, a computer memory stick or flash drive, a car key fob, or even an asthma inhaler. Instead of inhaling tobacco smoke from a cigarette, e-cigarette users inhale vapor from liquid “e-juice” that has been heated with a battery-powered coil. This is called vaping. The juice is flavored and usually contains nicotine and other chemicals.

E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among teens. New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.6 million adolescents were vaping in 2018. 

Kids might use different words to talk about e-cigarettes and vaping. For example, JUULing is a popular word to describe using a brand of e-cigarette. About 1 in 4 kids who use e-cigarettes also tries dripping. Instead of using a mouthpiece to vape, they drip the liquid directly onto a heat coil. This makes the vapor thicker and stronger.

Kids can order “e-juice” on the Internet. The legal age to buy e-cigarettes is 18, but online stores don’t always ask for proof of age. E-cigarette juices are sold in flavors like fruit, candy, coffee and chocolate. Most have the addictive ingredient nicotine. The more kids vape, the more hooked they become. Kids who vape just once are more likely to try other types of tobacco. Their developing brains make it easier for them to get hooked. E-cigarettes may not help people quit using tobacco. Some adults use e-cigarettes when they want to stop smoking tobacco cigarettes. While a recent report found e-cigarettes are “less toxic” than cigarettes, most people who use e-cigarettes do not quit using cigarettes. The healthiest option is for parents and their children to quit.

tobacco education

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Tobacco Truth is a program developed by Crossbow Communications. The company has influenced public opinion and public policy around the world for more than 30 years. The company specializes in health and environmental issues.