Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have revealed that the percentage of high schoolers who use e-cigarettes has doubled in one year, from 4.7 percent to 10 percent.
The steep rise in using e-cigarettes, with “harmless water vapor” and enticing designs, spurred researchers to investigate their true risks. Instead of burning tobacco, the e-cigarette contains a battery which heats liquid nicotine and turns it into a vapor, which is then inhaled into the lungs.
A study conducted by the University of California at San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education sought to discover the chemicals inhaled by e-cigarette users, concluding that e-cigarette usage comes with greater risk than previously thought. Users are also at risk of inhaling and exhaling low levels of cancer-causing chemicals such as formaldehyde, propylene glycol, and acetaldehyde. Secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes could also result in toxic air pollution. E-cigarettes also deliver high levels of nanoparticles, which can trigger inflammation and have been linked to asthma, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. Moreover, they contain solvents, or lung irritants, that can transform into cancer-causing chemicals.
E-cigarettes also deliver high levels of nanoparticles, which can trigger inflammation and have been linked to asthma, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. Moreover, they contain solvents, or lung irritants, that can transform into cancer-causing chemicals.
One large venue and potential cause of the rise in the e-cigarette trend is, unsurprisingly, advertising. According to a recent online study by the journal Pediatrics, exposure to e-cigarette ads on TV increased by 256% among adolescents ages 12 to 17 and by 321% among young adults, ages 18 to 24, between 2011 and 2013. Over three-quarters of the ads were shown on cable networks and during their 100 highest-rated youth programs, including The Bachelor, Big Brother and Survivor.
Furthermore, while electronic cigarettes may be marketed as alternatives to steer teenagers from tobacco, studies suggest that may not be the case. Trying e-cigarettes increased the odds that a teenager would also try tobacco cigarettes and become regular smokers, the study found. Those who said they had ever used an e-cigarette were six times more likely to try tobacco than those who had never tried them.
In April, Los Angeles banned using e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, in public places to “protect public health,” according to City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell. “It became a real issue in public schools. Youth were sneaking e-cigarettes and vaping under their desks. We don’t want to expose a whole new generation to normalizing e-cigarette use.” The ensuing report recommended actions to treat e-cigarettes as traditional tobacco products.