In 2003, a 52 year-old Chinese pharmacist invented and created the first commercially successful electronic cigarette, an electronic device that stimulates the feeling of smoking and works by heating a liquid to generate an aerosol (or vapor) that is inhaled. His motivation stemmed from his father dying of lung cancer and wanted a “safer” alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes.
By 2006, e-cigarettes were introduced in the European market and shortly after would find their way to the United States. Fast forward to present day and it’s not uncommon to find users of this device among various age groups, races, and genders. Rising in both availability and popularity, more and more people are using them … not only as an alternative to smoking tobacco, but other drugs as well.
Convenient, concealable, and easy to obtain, a particularly alarming rise can be found among youth and young adults. According to the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey, 11.7 percent of high school students and 3.3 percent of middle school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, compared to 1.5 percent of high school students and 0.6 percent of middle school students who reported current use in 2011. Similar to youth, young adults (aged 18-24) who use e-cigarettes daily increased from 2.4 percent in 2013 to 5.2 percent in 2015. Alarmingly, among these two specific age groups, the majority do not know what in the products they are inhaling when using e-cigarettes.
With vaping juice flavors such as cherry, vanilla, ice cream, pina colada, bubble gum, and peach to stranger, more exotic sounding varieties as unicorn milk, alien pee, and pink milkstache … these inquisitive options are inviting for children and young adults in trying something catered specifically to their palate. Purchase through websites is a growing concern too since many do not require authentication of age, allowing teens and younger children to buy e-cigarettes and vape juice with relative ease. This has many fearing e-cigarettes create a gateway introduction to the vicious cycle of not only nicotine addiction, but other drugs to a highly vulnerable and impressionable population. And, with the lack of smoke or odor from “vaping”, hiding drug use can literally happen in plain sight.
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