According to a recent statement from the FDA, the use of e-cigarettes, commonly referred to as ‘vaping’, has reached an epidemic proportion in growth.
According to Humberto Choi, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, people often mistakenly think e-cigarettes are a ‘safer’ smoking alternative, and this is often used as a marketing ploy, especially to teens and young adults.
“The idea that electronic cigarettes are a safer way to smoke is very aggressively marketed – especially toward teenagers, and young adults, but it’s really not, and we don’t have enough data to support that it is safer,” he said.
Dr. Choi said research has shown that in the short term, e-cigarettes can cause inflammation in the lungs.
E-cigarettes also contain carcinogens, which are chemicals that can cause cancer.
This is in addition to the nicotine that is present in both regular and e-cigarettes, which is what makes them highly addictive.
“The fact that so many teens are using electronic cigarettes is worrisome, because these teenagers are being exposed to nicotine levels that can be addictive,” said Dr. Choi. “We know that the electronic cigarettes contain chemicals that can be harmful – that are known to cause cancer – and we’ll see in the future if the harms are the same as regular cigarettes or not.”
Doctor Choi says that damage caused by smoking is cumulative over time, so the younger you start, the more potential there is for damage later on. He says that when it comes to e-cigarettes, experts are still learning about how extensive the damage can be long-term.
And while today’s teens are smoking less traditional cigarettes, Dr. Choi said more are smoking electronic cigarettes instead.
He said attractive packaging, with bright colors and added flavoring such as mango and chocolate are purposefully aimed at the youngest of customers.
In fact, the FDA has recently taken steps targeting manufacturers of e-cigarettes in an attempt to curb their sale to minors.
Dr. Choi believes every teen should have a conversation with their parents about the dangers of smoking any type of cigarette.
“Have this conversation with everyone – especially with teenagers,” he said. “Every teenager should have a conversation with their parents, or at their school, about the dangers of smoking cigarettes or electronic cigarettes.”