OSGOOD – Remember when candy cigarettes were a controversial thing?
These days, there are far worse tobacco alternatives being marketed to America’s impressionable youth.
“We have young people experimenting with products, for which we don’t know all the long-term health effects yet,” Sara Patterson, Ripley County Health Department tobacco prevention and cessation coordinator, told Ripley County Drug Awareness Coalition members May 16.
Her presentation – E-Cigarettes and JUULs 101 – was meant to open some eyes regarding the dangerous effects “vaping” (smoking electronic cigarettes) is having on vulnerable school-aged children.
Some statistics are indeed eye-popping.
In 2018, there were 1.5 million more youths engaged in e-cigarette usage than in 2017. This included a 78 percent increase for high school students and 48 percent bump for those in junior high or younger. In 2017, one of every five high school students used e-cigarettes in some form; one in 18 of grade-schoolers were using. Recently, e-cig usage surpassed conventional cigarettes as the most commonly used tobacco products.
“That unfortunately is the serious dilemma we’re facing here,” said Patterson.
She also mentioned results from the 2018 Indiana Youth Tobacco Survey – not yet available to the public – are much different than the prior year, thanks in part to vaping’s growing popularity. “People at the state level say they were astounded,” she hinted.
The e-cigarette is a handheld electronic device that works by heating a liquid flavoring (e-juice), which is inhaled by the user. Although there are various types of e-cigarettes available, a relatively new product has become the go-to vape.
“A JUUL has the highest nicotine concentration among e-cigarettes,” Patterson shared, passing around a pod-like product made by JUUL Labs Inc., San Francisco. “Each pod has 59 milligrams, equal to one pack of conventional cigarettes. Other e-cigarettes range from zero to 36 milligrams.”
She warned that claims of zero nicotine were dubious, as over 99 percent of e-cigarettes have at least a trace of the addictive drug. The JUUL doesn’t even offer a zero-nicotine pod.
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