LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Wilmington Board Of Health Sounds The Alarm On Teen Vaping

Dear Editor,

Vaping is a hot topic these days. It has ignited one of the biggest debates in public health history, and has found its way into just about every newspaper and TV news show. There are at least 10 million Americans who vape currently, and more than two million of them no longer smoke cigarettes at all. Worldwide the number is harder to be sure about, but there are likely to be 30 million or more vapers. While some data shows that e-cigarettes have benefits for adult smokers trying to quit, industry needs to recognize that e-cigarette use in teenagers could be harmful in developing brains and cause future addictions to nicotine.

The Board of Health wants you to know that Vaping can be addictive and may lure teenagers to smoking. A national panel of public health experts concluded in a report released on January 30, 2018 that vaping with e-cigarettes can be addictive and that teenagers who use the devices may be at a higher risk of smoking. The study also stopped short of declaring that e-cigarettes are safe, noting there are no long-term scientific studies of the devices’ addictive potential or their effects on the heart, lungs or on reproduction. The authors of this new report cite conclusive evidence that vaping can be addictive, and that exposure to nicotine from e-cigarettes is highly variable, depending on the type of device and how it is used. They also cited conclusive proof that in addition to nicotine, most e-cigarettes contain and emit potentially toxic substances.

According to recent Youth Risk Behavioral Surveys across the State, high school youth currently use E-cigarettes at a higher rate than all other tobacco products. High school youth reported a much higher rate of E-cigarette use than adults. While the current youth cigarette use rate in Massachusetts is just half of the adult use rate (7.7% versus 14%), the current youth E-cigarette use rate is more than 9 times higher than the adult use rate (23.7% versus 2.6%). Additionally, more youths than adults are dual users of both E-cigarettes and cigarettes. (5.2% of youth compared to 1.8% of adults). Specifically in Wilmington, 23.6% of 8th graders have tried E-cigarettes. Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University, says that “as vaping has become more popular among youth, it has displaced cigarette smoking and contributed towards the de-normalization of cigarette smoking.”

The Board of Health has local regulations that you must be 21 years old to purchase tobacco and that includes e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are also prohibited wherever smoking is prohibited. While more data and more regulations need to be implemented, specifically at the state and federal level, it is becoming increasingly clear that a more pressing campaign targeting our youth and the dangers of vaping is needed.

Sincerely,
Wilmington Board of Health

 

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