Back to School and E-Cigarettes

With the back to school season upon us, it’s time to talk about e-cigarette use and the effects on students.

From the Food and Drug Administration, from 2017 – 2018, current e-cigarette use – defined by use on at least one day in the past 30 days – by high school students increased 78 percent, from 11.7 to 20.8 percent, accounting for a troubling 3.05 million American high school students using e-cigarettes in 2018.  In addition, the proportion of current e-cigarette users in high school who reported use on 20 days or more in the past 30-day period increased from 20 percent to 27.7 percent between 2017 and 2018.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most e-cigarettes contain nicotine – the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products.  A recent CDC study found that 99% of the e-cigarettes sold in assessed venues in the United States contained nicotine.  Some e-cigarette labels do not disclose that they contain nicotine, and some e-cigarettes marked as containing 0% nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.  Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain.  The brain keeps developing until about age 25.  Using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.

The CDC notes the use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens and young adults.  Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine.  Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.  E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine.  Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.

The CDC describes e-cigarettes as electronic devices that heat a liquid and produce an aerosol, or mix of small particals in the air.  E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes.  Most have a battery, a heating element, and a place to hold a liquid.  Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.  Some look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday items.  Larger devices such as tank systems, or “mods,” do not look like other tobacco products.  E-cigarettes are known by many different names.  They are sometimes called “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” “tank systems,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).”  Using an e-cigarette is sometimes called “vaping.”

If you or your teen would like free help to quit using e-cigarettes, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.



US Food and Drug Administration:
2018 NYTS Data:  A Startling Rise in Youth E-cigarette Use

CDC Fact Sheet:
Electronic Cigarettes:  What’s the Bottom Line?

Teachers and Parents:  That USB Stick Might Be an E-Cigarette

Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults

CDC Fact Sheet:
E-Cigarettes Shaped like USB Flash Drives


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