Vaping teenagers

In the past few years, there have been an increase in popularity of electronic cigarettes among adults and teenagers. These devices are advertised to help cigarette addicts to overcome their cravings in a gradual and helpful way; but, they have quickly become a growing trend among youth.

What is e-Cigarette?

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An e-cigarette is an instrument that uses a coil to turn liquid nicotine into vapour for the user to inhale. It uses no tobacco, and it has different levels of nicotine to give each individual a personalized experience. The liquid or “juice” used in these devices are often flavoured, and have sweet and candy-like tastes that users do not usually have while smoking a regular cigarette. This variety of flavours are why it is becoming so popular with adolescents.  There are over 8,000 flavours to choose from;  for example, strawberry, bubblegum, cream, hazelnut and kiwi and new websites and “vape shops” have been rapidly launching around North America. The phenomenon has been so popular, that even tobacco companies have been creating their own style of e-cigarettes and selling them, alongside normal cigarettes. Even though vapes may be an alternative for quitting smoking, the long-term effects of these products are not unknown.

What are the potential health problems with e-cigarettes?

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Health concerns with electronic cigarettes are not well researched, mostly because they have only been around for such a short time.   Since vape has not yet been regulated by  FDA nor Health Canada and with so many brands and vendors to choose from,  the true ingredients (and its detrimental effects)  in the products are questionable.  In 2014, Health Canada randomly tested some of the products claimed to be  “nicotine free”, and found at least over half the products actually containing nicotine.  Some contains solvents which may be harmful to your body.    

On the other hand, a ten millilitres e-cigarette cartridge is equivalent to 200 cigarettes.  Users often subconsciously consumed way more nicotine as one of these 10ml e-cigarette cartridges can easily be consumed completely in 2 hours!  

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Nicotine, even in small doses, can become highly addictive, and can be detrimental to a growing child’s brain.  Even though young children may not be vaping like a teenager, they may accidentally ingest the liquid, as they are drawn to the “juices” by their different attractive flavours.  Calls to poison control centres related to e-cigarettes liquid poisoning in young children have sky rocketed since e-cigarettes introduction in recent years.  

Though e-cigarettes have been considered by many as a good way to stop smoking, the research for its efficacy and safety for smoking cessation has not been established. Nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges are still the mainstream for smoking substitutes. The more exposure e-cigarettes have, the more chance it will fall into children’s hands, leading them to become addicted to nicotine and even become future smokers.  The idea of E-cigarettes as a smoking alternative may just be illusive and cloudy as the vape as it produces.   

It’s time to kick your (cigarette) butts! National Non-Smoking Week is upon us.

If you go for a walk outside, you will probably pass a smoker along the way.  Although the number of smokers appears to be declining as more and more education and prevention strategies are available, it is still a major health issue in today’s society.  The health consequences for smoking are serious and significant.  There are more than 440,000 deaths a year related to smoking and an additional 50,000 deaths from second hand smoke.  Health concerns resulting from smoking are not only linked obviously to your lungs but also; to your heart, your reproductive organs, your blood (eg.  leukemia), your eyes (eg. cataracts), just to name a few examples.  Along with the usual health problems associated with smoking (allergies, asthma, infections), second hand smoke from friends or family members particularly affects children.  Infants and children are at higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome and early childhood caries when they are exposed to the smoke of others. Don’t forget also,  third hand smoke, which is when residual toxins from the cigarettes are deposited on surfaces throughout the homes even after the cigarette is no longer lit.  The toxins lingers in the air for months and the well being of children who play in these contaminated areas are jeopardized.

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The Children’s Oral Care Centre strongly supports the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s  recommendations for smoking  prevention.   We take interests in regular screening for tobacco use, prevention strategies for children and adolescents and treating any tobacco dependency within this population because shocking statistics tells us that, today 20% of high school students use tobacco (including smokeless forms) and 90% of adult smokers began before the age of 19.  Every day 3,600 teenagers between the ages of 12-17 will try smoking and of those 1,100 will become regular users.  As pediatric dentists, we are concerned about the large number of adolescent smokers who expose themselves to negative oral health outcomes, including  smell and taste reductions, staining of teeth, leukoplakia, coated tongue, oral cancer and periodontitis.

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One effective way to spread the word “no” to tobacco in the young generation is through technology! QuitNow is a province wide quit smoking resource that provide services and scientifically-proven support for smoking cessation http://www.quitnow.ca/.   The BC Lung Association’s QuitNow program can also be found on your phone so you can have access to this support system at any time anywhere! You can even sign up for text messaging support, participate in monthly contests and join their facebook group to interact with and share stories with others who are trying to quit themselves.  Another great resource for quitting is your pharmacist, they are usually within close distance and you don’t need an appointment to speak with them for advice and support with smoking cessation.

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There is no better time than now to look into smoking cessation for you and those you care about, like your teenage sons or daughters.  Share with them these resources and show them your support!

 

Copyright 2013 The Children’s Oral Care Centre