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A New Conversation to have with your Children

A New Conversation to have with your Children

We have a new ‘conversation’ that needs to be had with our young children. Vaping. If you are not sure exactly what this is, your middle school or high school student probably does and may have already tried it.

Most of us have heard of the e-cigarette. It has been around since 2007 here in the U.S. It was originally invented in 2003 by a pharmacist in China (and even earlier in the ‘60s) to offer a safe alternative to help people stop using tobacco products, but then created and promoted by big tobacco companies, as not the alternative smoking cessation device it was initially created for, but as a more glamorous way for consumers to become addicted to nicotine. This is highly sought after by smokers and non-smokers alike. Smokers as a way to satisfy their nicotine cravings in places that ban the traditional cigarette (however many do both) and non-smokers for the ‘cool’ way to now smoke aided by the added fun flavors to entice our young, vulnerable school-aged children.

But is it safe? There is the nicotine delivered by the aerosol in the device. Nicotine is addictive and is derived from the tobacco plant. The aerosol contains a wide variety of metals along with chemicals known to cause cancer. I think common sense will tell you it is not. It is a well-known fact that pregnant women should not use nicotine and this method would not be any safer for the developing baby. The flavors used in the device such as bubblegum, mint, strawberry, etc. are there to appeal to young people who have never smoked before. Therefore, introducing to their young bodies (specifically their lungs and blood system) to metals, chemicals and the highly addictive nicotine that is absolutely not healthy for humans. Not to mention the damage done to still developing brains of kids into their 20’s and creating a whole new generation of young people addicted to nicotine which can bring with it a complicated lifelong struggle.

The CDC’s survey taken in 2018 showed that 3.18 million middle school and high school students used a vaping device (in the past 30 days when the survey was taken) and most had not previously used tobacco products. Vaping devices are not allowed to be used by children under the age of 18—but neither are the traditional cigarettes for that matter. And interestingly, these young users have been found to be charging the device on their school computers. Yes, the device needs to be charged in order to deliver the aerosol and the device is easily hidden from view and does not produce the telltale tobacco smell. The FDA has banned the fruit and candy flavored e-juice (as it is called) as use of these devices are alarmingly on the rise even though cigarette and tobacco use by young people decreased between 2011 and 2017 by half. Some of these kids would never have even started using this if not for the particular marketing of this device. A well-known maker of a very popular vaping device JUUL has agreed to stop selling the sweet candy flavored pods to retail outlets, however, other enticing flavors are still sold on their website. [Update: July 2019 this maker has discontinued sweet candy flavored pods] But beware as there are counterfeit popular flavored pods (e-juice) coming into the country.

Certainly, the long-term effects still cannot be fully foreseen but the information that has come to light recently is cause for additional concern and needs to be fully investigated. Hospitals and doctors in several states have started to see what may be a very serious development with the use of vaping by teens, young adults and older adults (all considered as healthy). These patients are suffering with lung injuries and/or disease. The common denominator was they all had either vaped or dabbed (inhaling a marijuana product). Additionally, young people suffering from seizures has been reported with those using these devices. Nicotine toxicity has long been associated with causing seizures.

It sounds to me that this vaping is just not a good thing to even start especially if you are not already using a tobacco product. In fact, the CDC has issued that very recommendation. And is it myth or fact that these e-cigarettes actually aid you in the cessation of using tobacco products. They alone are full of harmful ingredients just to produce the ‘maybe’ smaller amount of nicotine product. That in itself makes little sense. The information that I have included in this blog in part was provided from the January and (updated) July 2019 email/blogs sent by the AEDSuperstore dealing with the sort of (not new) but newly concerning subject of Vaping. The AEDSuperstore is the company that provides Bordas & Bordas with our AED (automated external defibrillator) devices that is in each of our offices in Wheeling, St. Clairsville, Moundsville and Pittsburgh.

The term “Vaping’ is considered by young people as a way of using a nicotine product. “Diffusing/Inhaling” is using a non-nicotine product (or diffuser) which is essential oils. Dabbing is using (inhaling) a marijuana product. There is dry vape and wet vape—one worse than the other. Confusing is the term ‘vaping’ itself. It is my understanding that vaping devices are used for legal cannabis use and it is referred to as vaping by those users. One respondent to the blog/article referenced above defended his use of legal marijuana for medical reasons and took umbrage to the debate of whether ‘vaping’ is better than smoking regular cigarettes or harmful in and of itself. This respondent feels to vape is fine, it’s just what you are vaping, i.e., nicotine is what the problem is and therefore do not trash vaping itself. No matter what product you are using the vapor is produced by the use of metals and chemicals. This vapor is considered to be just water vapor by users; therefore, it is not harmful. However, the vapor has all those added harmful ingredients, so certainly this subject is open for debate and needs further investigation and for all intents and purposes probably needs to be regulated. My personal thoughts are maybe vaping should also be banned from public places like the use of cigarettes.

Vaping and all the paraphernalia that goes with that is something that I am not personally familiar with. I am not sure I have even seen what an e-cigarette looks like let alone know terminology like pods, e-juice, dabbing, etcetera. However, in light of what has been happening across the country with people experiencing adverse effects some of which could be life threatening but certainly life changing allegedly from the use of vaping in one form or another, it is time for parents/caregivers to add vaping to their list of ‘talk’ topics if they haven’t already. And if you know someone who is vaping, provide them with the most current health information so they can make a choice about whether they feel it is safe to vape. 

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