Letter: More teens using e-cigarettes
What is an e-cigarette? An e-cigarette is a battery-operated device that can appear like a real cigarette or a pen. Some have refillable tanks and appear different. There are many brands to choose from but all are marketed in a way to provide nicotine to individuals without smoking a dangerous cigarette. Using an e-cigarette is called “vaping.” Stores selling them are sometimes called “vape shops.” They are located in nearly every community.
How do they work? All e-cigarettes operate the same basic way. They have a mouth piece and a container filled with liquid containing nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals. A battery-powered heating device changes the liquid to a vapor that the individual can inhale when taking a drag. Many adults claim e-cigarettes provide an alternative to cigarettes and can be used to assist stop smoking cigarettes.
E-Cigarette Labeling: The label on each e-cigarette will state the exact nicotine concentration as well as other ingredients. An analysis has found the nicotine content is highly variable, ranging from 0 mg/ml to a measured concentration of 24 mg/ml to 100 mg/ml. The labeled concentration in these cases was inconsistent with the actual concentration of ingredients. Many times consumers do not really know what they are inhaling with e-cigarettes.
Potential Danger: Are e-cigarettes safe for smoking or a gateway to getting kids hooked on a habit for using nicotine? According to data released in February from the Food & Drug Administration/ Center for Disease Control (FDA/CDC) National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students were e-cigarette users in 2018, an increase of more than 1.5 million students in one year.
According to a study comparing youth nonusers and users reported in the Feb. 1 Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open, teen users of e-cigarettes are likely to become addicted to nicotine and to eventually transition to conventional cigarettes. According to the FDA, e-cigarettes are not 100 percent safe but are considered to be less dangerous than cigarettes.
E-Cigarettes to Quit Smoking. According to Erika Sward, assistant vice president at the American Lung Association, there is no evidence any e-cigarette is safe and effective at helping smokers quit.
Any questions you may have about using e-cigarettes to assist quitting smoking or teen use of e-cigarettes may be directed to your health care provider or pharmacist. There are other medications, strategies and proven stop-smoking tools.
Keith Miller, Pharm.D.