During the third week of October, the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) celebrates National Health Education Week. As part of this national effort to raise awareness about major public health issues, we’re spotlighting the risks of e-cigarettes for youth and debunking common myths.
Vaping has become an epidemic among teenagers across the country, as well as in the state of Florida. The Sun Sentinel recently reported serious health issues from Florida teens that used e-cigarettes, ranging from shortness of breath to migraines, seizures and respiratory illness. Results from the latest 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), indicate that 43.4% of Hillsborough County high school students have used an electronic vapor product. This number rises for each grade level, with more than half of 12th graders (52.9%) reported as users.
The Bottom Line on the Risks of E-cigarettes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults.
Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.
E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine.
Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future” (CDC, 2019).
Myths and Facts About Smoking from Teen Health & Wellness:
“Myth: I can quit smoking at any time.
Fact: Young brains are highly susceptible to addiction, and when an addiction forms, the brain is rewired to crave the substance. As a result, it is not easy to quit smoking. While it is possible to quit, it is very hard, and most people make several attempts to quit smoking or vaping before they are successful. A 2011 study by the CDC showed that 70 percent of smokers wanted to quit, more than half had tried to quit in the previous year, and only 6 percent had succeeded.
Myth: Vaping (or using e-cigarettes) is a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes.
Fact: Any time you inhale anything other than oxygen into your lungs, you run the risk of damage. Many e-cigarettes contain the chemical diacetyl, which has been linked to a respiratory disease called bronchiolitis obliterans. What’s more, research shows that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try other forms of smoking than those who have never vaped.
Myth: Smoking makes me feel happy and energetic.
Fact: Initially, smoking may make you feel energized, especially because your body has never experienced nicotine before. But after continued use, as your body becomes more dependent on the substances you are inhaling, you will no longer feel that way. In fact, research has shown that teens who are exposed to nicotine are at a higher risk for mood disorders such as depression” (Vaping and Smoking, 2019).
To help protect teens from the dangers of tobacco use, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) expanded its campaign, “The Real Cost”. Check out the ad below urging teens to “know the real cost of vaping”.
If you want to stop vaping or using tobacco, you can get free help without giving anyone your personal information. Visit https://teen.smokefree.gov/quit-vaping or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). You can also chat online with a counselor at https://livehelp.cancer.gov/.
For local support and resources, check out DACCO Behavioral Health’s Youth Services program, providing positive youth mental health support, substance abuse prevention and treatment, as well as monitoring and intervention services for all Hillsborough County youth.
Danielle Lewald, MPH, CPH, Adolescent Health Resource Coordinator, Healthy Start Coalition of Hillsborough County, Inc.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, March 11). Quick Facts on the risks of e-cigarettes. Retrieved October 22, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick-Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019 Hillsborough County-FL-Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Accessed on October 22, 2019.
Vaping and Smoking. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2019, from https://teenhealthandwellness.com/article/588/vaping-and-smoking