NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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E-cigarettes: What You Need to Know and Share

electronic cigarettes, e-cigarettes, e-cigs, vapes, Juul

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigs, e-hookahs, vapes, mods or ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems), are made to look like regular cigarettes, pens, cigars, pipes, guitar picks and even a small cellphone, as well as other household items.

However, the one quickly gaining popularity is JUUL. It looks like a USB stick. They have a high tech feel and appearance, and both the product itself and the marketing of it make it look very cool. Students refer to using this device as Juuling.

Vaping is the act of using an e-cig by any name to inhale and exhale aerosol vapor.

Students report it’s easy to do in school bathrooms because there is no smoke or smoke odors and the devices are easy to conceal.  

More than 3.6 million U.S. youth, including one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students, use e-cigarettes.

What most of these students don’t realize is the harm they are doing to themselves by vaping.

Most e-cigarettes have a battery, a heating element and a place to hold a liquid. They produce an aerosol by heating the liquid, which contains nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals. Users inhale this mixture into their lungs and then exhale a cloud of vapor. When asked, students report the vapor is “just water.”

Actually, it is formaldehyde and cancer-causing chemicals. The flavorings also are chemicals that have not been approved for inhalation into one’s lungs.

Most vapes do contain nicotine, even some the manufacturers claim do not. Nicotine is an addictive substance that makes e-cigarette use harmful to anyone, but especially adolescents and young adults whose brains still are developing.

Nicotine can disrupt brain development; create permanent changes in the brain; adversely impact learning, memory, attention, impulse control, mood and respiratory health; and make the young person more susceptible to nicotine addiction. A typical e-cig pod or cartridge contains about as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes, making it extremely dangerous around a curious young child.

The risks and the sheer volume of youth using these devices has prompted a call to action by the surgeon general.

At the same time, companies selling these devices and products are advertising them where youth live - online. A recent study monitored the marketing materials used on social media, including Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. The study noted that e-cigarette companies use cartoons as a marketing strategy and many of the logos contain cartoons.

Although combustible cigarettes and chewing tobacco have had advertising restrictions since 1999, this new industry has none. This, combined with candy flavors and names that appeal to youth, make the problem even greater.

Parents, grandparents, community members, here is our chance to make a difference. “Talk to the youth in your life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (www.CDC.gov) has many resources on this topic, as well as a tip sheet for parents at https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/SGR_ECig_ParentTipSheet_508.pdf.”

Source: Kim Bushaw, NDSU family science specialist

Optional graphic from: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/about-e-cigarettes.html

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