E-Cigarettes are NOT harmless.

No matter what you call them: e-cigarettes, vape pens, e-hookahs, mods, tanks, e-pipes, electronic nicotine delivery systems(ENDS), or electronic aerosol delivery systems(EADS) they all have the same purpose: to simulate using a regular tobacco product.

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E-cigarettes were first marketed as a product that was to be used as a cessation device to help people quit smoking traditional tobacco products and the vapor was made up of water. We now know that e-cigarette vape is more than water vapor and does contain carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals. The amount of carcinogens in e-cigarette vape is less than regular cigarette smoke, which allows for the marketing of e-cigarettes as “less harmful.”  “Less harmful” still means they are harmful. It has been recommended that if daily smokers would switch from regular cigarettes to just using e-cigarettes it would be healthier for them. But, studies have shown that most people end up using both products, which does not help their health and usually increases their nicotine intake per day, making it harder to quit in the long term.

The other major concern with the popularity of these products is that the youth rate of using e-cigarettes has exploded. In 2016 the high school rate of smoking regular cigarettes has dropped to an all- time low of 4.3% in New York State, but e-cigarette use amongst high schoolers has risen to 20.6%. In Allegany County these rates are 8.2% for cigarette use and 43.5% for e-cigarettes among high schoolers.

There are many reasons that e-cigarettes are popular with youth:

  • Availability of different flavors.
  • Ability to do tricks.
  • Thought of NOT being dangerous compared to regular tobacco products.
  • Marketing on tv, magazines, internet, social media, and in stores.
  • E-cigarettes have replaced cigarettes as a way of making a social statement.
  • Being part of a subculture and not part of mainstream society.

Most people will argue that they would rather have their son or daughter use an e-cigarette instead of traditional cigarettes, but studies have shown that young people who use e-cigarettes are over eight times more likely to transition to traditional cigarettes after one year than non-users of e-cigarettes.  Some e-juice also contains nicotine, which is highly addictive and changes the development of the adolescent brain, which does not stop maturing until age twenty-five.

One big step in the right direction is that New York State’s Assembly and Senate has passed adding e-cigarettes to the Clean Indoor Air Act. If a product is going to be used or deemed okay to use, one should know about that product. More information can be found at  https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/2016_SGR_Fact_Sheet_508.pdf.

Remember, Prevention Works!

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