While the outbreak of vape-related lung illness has arisen recently, concerns have abounded for many years by those who observe e-cigarette usage. In 2018, Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse made note in a press release that, “research tells us that teens who vape may be at risk for transitioning to regular cigarettes, so while we have celebrated our success in lowering their rates of tobacco use in recent years, we must continue aggressive educational efforts on all products containing nicotine.”
As of most recent reports by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,172 cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury and forty-two deaths have been confirmed in 24 states and the District of Columbia. CDC records have also found that 14% of those patients are under the age 18 and 40% of those patients are between the ages of 18 to 24.
The CDC recommends that to combat the growing epidemic, irrespective of the ongoing investigation, “E-cigarette, or vaping, products should never be used by youths, young adults, or women who are pregnant.” Such a direct statement provides profound reason to implement bans on the accessibility of e-cigarettes from those who are not above the age of 21.
Extensive research on the way e-cigarette and vape products affect the minds of children has been conducted by The Child Mind Institute. Dr. Sarper Tasikran, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute, has observed that vape-related addictions correlate with the ability to focus. Those who vape initially experience an increase in alertness and attention, but then experience a decrease in attention span. One student reported that when she began vaping she was able to sit through practice ACT exams but after doing so for six months she “can’t sit still because she starts craving, can’t think of questions, and just starts fidgeting.”
Dr. Taskiran’s studies have also led him to find that teens report they can take 10 puffs of an e-cigarette in only 2 minutes. “The math,” he states, “10 puffs = 1 full cigarette.”
Nicotine, found in both e-cigarettes and tobacco products, is extremely addictive and increase’s an individual’s risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Research from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has found that the earlier one begins smoking, the greater the risk to one’s health and the harder it is to quit. Findings from the 2018 Monitoring the Future survey show that the percentage of 12th-graders who reported vaping in their lifetime rose to 42.5% from 35.8% in 2017.
While cigarette smoking in the United States has decreased in recent years 34 million American adults still report smoking. Studies relating to adult smokers have found that 90% begin while in their teens, or earlier; and two-thirds become regular, daily smokers before they reach the age of 19. Every day, about 1,900 kids in the United States try their first cigarette; and another 250 additional kids under 18 years of age become new regular, daily smokers accumulating to an average of 90,000 new underage daily smokers in the country every year.
Drug Safe Utah Education is disappointed in President Trumps most recent decision to not follow through in his promised ban on flavored e-cigarettes. A ban on flavored e-cigarettes would lessen the appeal of harmful vape products to the youth in America, exhibiting an upmost respect for the health and well-being of children in this country. It is unfortunate that political popularity has taken precedent over the nation’s current state of public health.
Regulation by the government of e-cigarettes should be deemed vital in order to provide sufficient protection to the public health and safety of its youthful citizens. In order to quell the growing epidemic and prevent the growth of lung disease among young adults in the U.S., youth and children should not have access to e-cigarettes.