, 19 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
One of the most troubling public health issues today is the escalating popularity of e-cigarettes among our nation’s youth. In today’s #FDA #SundayTweetorial I’m laying out our case for why vaping endangers the health of youth.
Anecdotally, I’ve heard from parents of kids who are addicted – telling me how easy it is for teens to buy and use e-cigarettes, how e-cig images are all over social media, and how their kids tell them that so many of their friends in high school are using these products.
You’ve probably heard those reports, too. But my comments today aren’t based on anecdotes. They’re informed by a growing body of evidence showing e-cigarette use by youth is truly a health epidemic—and one with the potential for serious consequences.
First, let’s look at data which confirms that youth use of e-cigs has become an epidemic. The 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey found a 78% increase in current e-cig use among high school students and a 48% increase among middle school students. go.usa.gov/xERTT
Drill down and you’ll find that the total number of middle and high school students who are currently using e-cigarettes rose an astounding 1.5 MILLION in one year to 3.6 million youth. There is no reason to believe that these trends have abated, and the numbers won't increase.
Now consider the health effects on children. A Surgeon General’s report found that e-cig aerosols are not harmless and can contain cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde and acrolein as well as heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead go.usa.gov/xERTY.
We believe e-cigs can provide substantial health benefits helping currently addicted adult smokers fully transition off of combustible cigarettes. But lower risk does not mean entirely risk free. And in children who aren't using cigarettes, the risks of e-cigs aren't acceptable
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine (NASEM) analyzed 800 peer-reviewed articles for a 2018 report on the health consequences of e-cig use bit.ly/2zhKV7L. Among its findings: emerging evidence that using e-cigs may be harmful to the lungs.
Certainly, one of the overriding concerns raised by the Surgeon General, NASEM and other researchers is that most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance go.usa.gov/xERB4 can have a profound impact on kids’ brains.
For one thing, the brain is the last organ in the human body to fully develop. Nicotine exposure during periods of significant brain development, such as adolescence, can rewire the reward circuits in the brain.
These aren’t insignificant effects. They can make these kids more susceptible to nicotine addiction and these effects can have other long-lasting impacts, including lower impulse control and mood disorders.
With the advent of e-cig products –like Juul –that are capable of delivering nicotine to the brain as efficiently as conventional cigarettes but without as many barriers to use, we could be looking at more kids addicted to nicotine than we’ve seen in a long time.
Already I’ve heard too many painful stories from parents, pediatricians and young people who report that addiction has already taken hold for many young vapers.
Data seems to back up these anecdotes. More than a quarter (27.7%) of current high school e-cig users are getting repeated exposure to addictive nicotine by using the product regularly (on 20 or more days in the past month). go.usa.gov/xER2H
But also keep in mind this is an exploding epidemic and we're seeing a snapshot on current use by children. Follow these same children for a few years, and it's a good bet that those using occasionally now will be regular users later. This is how addictions get formed and evolve.
Now, a new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), further demonstrates what we’ve seen from other data: Teens who vape are more likely to start smoking cigarettes bit.ly/2tdq5Ri.
What’s more, not all of these kids would have otherwise smoked cigarettes – they are also kids who rejected cigarettes but may now be at risk of cigarette smoking due to e-cigarette use and an addiction to nicotine.
Thus, with an epidemic of youth e-cig use, there’s also imminent risk that e-cigs are contributing to initiation of kids on combustible cigarettes, potentially reversing decades of progress in reducing youth smoking.
FDA won’t allow a generation of kids to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigs. We must stop youth e-cig use from continuing to rise at such alarming rates and will take whatever action is necessary to ensure these kids don’t become future smokers go.usa.gov/xERBx.
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