Saturday, March 9, 2019 || LETTERS || OPINION || @maywoodnews
Vaping is a new way to deliver nicotine. Young people who use e-cigarettes or JUUL products have the same risk of nicotine addiction as kids who start smoking cigarettes. The term “vaping” comes from the tiny puffs of vapor inhaled when these devices are used. A battery heats the liquid to produce the vapor. While some vaping pens look like a cigarette, a JUUL looks like a computer flash drive. These products are easily hidden from parents and other adults.
Because of appealing flavors such as mango, fruit, and cucumber, many young people in our community are unaware that JUUL cartridges contain nicotine. Each cartridge contains the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. Nicotine is very addictive and can harm kids’ developing brains. Vaping can cause learning and attention problems. Being around the vapor is like breathing second-hand smoke. There is evidence that vaping products contain chemicals that can harm your lungs. Some of the chemicals may also cause cancer.
Vaping products are widely marketed online, through social media, in magazines, and in stores where kids can see the ads. Vaping has increased in popularity among youth nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in four high school kids and one in 14 middle school students have vaped. Sales for JUUL have increased by 600 percent in the past two years.
JUUL is heavily marketed to smokers to replace the nicotine in cigarettes with nicotine cartridges. Research is unclear about the value of vaping in helping smokers to quit. What is clear is that appealing marketing has led more and more young people to try this addictive product. You have to be 21 in Maywood to purchase tobacco or vaping products, but kids experiment with them anyway.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently required companies to add nicotine warnings to packaging. They also restricted the sale of flavored cartridges to the JUUL website. Companies were forced to shut down their social media accounts, which attracted kids. However, JUUL shows up in video games and on YouTube. Young people can still buy flavored pods online with little age restrictions.
Not only do vaping products have long-term health risks, they can explode! Recently a young man was fatally injured after a vape pen exploded, sending shards of metal into his face and neck. This is the second recorded death from a vape pen explosion. There were more than 2,000 vape pen explosion and burn injuries between 2015 and 2017 in the US.
Parents need to understand that vaping by young people is not safe, can be addictive, and can lead to the use of other tobacco products. Visit the CDC “Talk With Your Teen About E-Cigs” to find out more ways to have conversations with your kids about vaping.
As a Maywood resident, you can be proud that Maywood was one of the first communities in Illinois to increase the age to purchase tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. You can continue to advocate for the health of young people by supporting legislation to increase the age to purchase tobacco and vaping products to 21 statewide.
Visit the website of the Respiratory Health Association to learn more about Tobacco 21. To find out where your high school student can get health information and primary care during school hours, contact Loyola’s School-Based Health Center located within Proviso East High School at 708 449 9522.
— The School-Based Health Center at Proviso East
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