By Christine Driscoll, MC, LASAC
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash
Mango, café au lait, cotton candy and gummy bears—these are not jelly bean flavors any more, these are tobacco flavors. Designed to lure kids and teenagers, tobacco companies developed e-cigarette vape pens and devices to be sleek, fun, and taste like candy. Because of this, 3.6 million kids now regularly smoke e-cigarettes and a new generation has become hooked on nicotine.
The stats are alarming – 97% of youth e-cigarette users report using a flavored product in the past month. Seven out of 10 youth e-cigarette users cite flavors as a reason they use e-cigarettes. Arizona teens are no exception. One out of six Arizona high school students use e-cigarettes. And research shows that youth are initiating at a younger age. In 2018, 28.6% of high schoolers who had tried e-cigarettes initiated prior to 14, compared to just 8.8% in 2014.
Some have angled that e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes; that is false. E-cigarettes pose serious risks to the health of young people. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that youth use of nicotine in any form, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that can have lasting damaging effects on adolescent brain development, specifically the part of the brain that controls attention, learning, mood and impulse control. Nicotine can also affect the cardiovascular system, increase blood pressure, narrow arteries and lead to heart attacks. One pod from the e-cigarette maker JUUL contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. Using nicotine in your youth may also lead to a nicotine addiction in adulthood.
Additionally, other ingredients in e-cigarette aerosol could be harmful to the lungs causing poisoning, cough and difficulty breathing. Chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss are additional symptoms associated with vaping.
There is a huge number of vaping devices and over 15,000 different flavors of e-cigarettes on the market. It is important to know the facts and be aware of the risks that e-cigarettes carry. These are not toys to be played with but dangerous devices carrying harmful substances into our bodies. For more information, visit flavorshookkidsphoenix.org.
Christine Driscoll, MC, LASAC is a volunteer parent advocate with Phoenix for Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes (PAVe). PAVe is a nonprofit national advocacy and education organization powered by parent volunteers fighting to protect kids from the dangers of flavored e-cigarettes and the predatory practices of “Big Tobacco.” PAVe Phoenix has joined the Flavors Hook Kids Phoenix Coalition to help end the sale of all flavored tobacco products in Phoenix.