As Vaping Industry Grows so do Warnings About the Health Risks, Especially to Children
E-cigarettes started out as a “smokeless” alternative to traditional cigarettes and has resulted in a $20 billion a year industry that has real health risks for children and adolescents.
Also called “vaping” due to the production of mist or vapor, or JUULing, referring to the brand name JUUL, or ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery system), E-cigarettes are devices for inhaling a nicotine solution, flavored chemicals, oils, and other ingredients.
In 2018, three million high school students and 570,000 middle school students reported using e-cigarettes. This represents a 75 percent increase over 2017 for high school students.
Michelle M. Kelly, PhD, an assistant professor at Villanova University’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing and a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner says, “We need to have productive conversations with children in elementary school and middle school about what they see others doing in their environment. Who do they know that is vaping or juuling? Has anyone at school been caught doing it? Use those conversations as a way to start talking about the risks.”
Kelly adds, “The most important thing that families, schools and healthcare providers can do to stem this mushroom cloud of vaping and e-cigarettes is to bust the myths that surround the practice.” She suggests asking what the child/teen knows, and correct false information provided by their peers, social media and mainstream marketing.
Typically, there are more than 40 chemicals in the vapor produced by these products, including acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, isoprene and toluene, which are all known chemicals that cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. In a survey of students in grades 8-12, 75 per cent of eighth graders and more than half of twelfth graders believed that vaping liquid or the mist produced contained only the flavoring. Just 10 per cent of twelfth graders reported that there was nicotine in the vape.
Initially these products were marketed to adults as alternatives to cigarette smoking. Yet the average cigarette has 12 to 30 mg of nicotine, and e-cigarettes typically range from 18 to 72 mg of nicotine. The range comes from the availability of nicotine juice in concentrations that vary from 25-100 mg/ml. For a child, 1 ml of the higher concentrated nicotine juice could prove toxic.
The flavored products sold in convenience stores, vape shops and online are particularly appealing to tweens and teens. There are more than 400 e-cigarette websites and more than 7,000 unique flavors.
To speak with Kelly, click on her headshot above, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 610-519-5152.
Michelle Kelly, PhD Assistant Professor | M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing
Michelle Kelly, PhD, CRNP, is an expert in neonatal intensive care units and the long-term health effects of premature birth