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Vaping and electronic cigarettes have dominated much of the news lately—and you’ve probably noticed vape shops opening in or near your neighborhood. But how much do you really know about the nation’s latest nicotine-fueled trend?
Electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes or e-cigs) are battery-powered devices that turn liquid nicotine into a vapor that you can inhale. E-cigarettes can look like real cigarettes, or they can look like cigars, pipes, pens, or USB flash drives. Most e-cigarettes contain some level of nicotine, with some having as much nicotine as a normal cigarette. The term ‘vaping’ is used to describe how one uses an e-cigarette.
While the e-cigarette trend is fairly new, the fact that nicotine is addictive has been known for decades. E-cigarette manufacturers promote them as being less harmful and having fewer toxins than cigarettes, but they’re not required to disclose the ingredients—so how can we be sure of what we’re vaping?
To make them more appealing, some makers offer e-cigarettes in a variety of flavors—like mango or cappuccino—but that also makes them more appealing to teenagers, even though they’re promoted as an alternative for adult smokers. Teenagers who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to smoke regular tobacco products than those who don’t vape—and any product containing addictive nicotine is harmful for teenagers, since their brains are still developing.
Let’s take a look at some facts about vaping:
- E-cigarettes have become the most commonly used tobacco product in the country among youth and young adults.
- Usage has increased so much over the past few years that children age 12 to 17 are now being asked if they vape or use e-cigarettes during well-child visits with their doctors.
- In 2017, 11.7% of high school students and 3.3% of middle school students reported e-cigarette use in the last 30 days. By contrast, in 2011, only 1.5% of high school students and 0.6% of middle school students reported that they used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days.
- In 2017, more than 2 million middle school and high school students reported using an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.
- 99% of all e-cigarettes sold at grocery stores and supermarkets contain nicotine.
As the vaping trend continues to appeal to more teens, talk to the young members of your community about the dangers of vaping. If you have friends or family dealing with children who vape, share these helpful resources with them:
- Tipsheet for parents about e-cigarettes
- Maryland Tobacco Quitline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
And the next time a coworker or friend asks if you want to take a vape break, opt for a brisk nicotine-free walk around the block instead.
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