Vaping dangers, discussion with teens necessary


While you're talking to your kids about drugs, smoking, sex and internet safety, think about adding vaping to the list.

Vaping is popular among teenagers now for all the wrong reasons. Many teens are under the incorrect assumption that because an e-cigarette is not a traditional paper-rolled-around-tobacco, it's not a health risk.

They couldn't be more wrong.

Between 2011 and 2015, there was a 900 percent increase in the use of e-cigarettes among high school students.

"The most dangerous aspect of e-cigarettes is that up until last year, they were completely unregulated and even today we still don't know exactly what's being inhaled," warned Brent Fuller, M.D., Beaumont internal medicine/pediatrician physician. "You're inhaling a bunch of chemicals and we don't know what they are. Because of the unknowns, we don't know what the long-term effects of vaping will be, but I would worry about cancer, the increased risk of smoking for years to come, and the effect it has on brain development."

We don't know what the long-term effects of vaping will be, but I would worry about cancer, the increased risk of smoking for years to come and the effect it has on brain development.

Dr. Fuller

According to the American Lung Association, even some e-cigarettes that claimed to be nicotine free tested positive for the drug.

"There are nicotine receptors in the brain and other places in the body and, when it enters your system, it binds to them," explained Dr. Fuller. "The long-term effect of nicotine is a higher risk for addiction and a negative impact on brain development, specifically, your working memory and attention span. So, high schoolers who smoke e-cigarettes could be risking their grades and, potentially, their future careers, because they can't pay attention in school."

Parents should also be concerned if their kids are athletes and think it's OK to vape. "This isn't just a water solution that tastes like bubble gum or some other cute flavor. One of the chemicals in e-cigarettes is diacetyl, which can effect lung capacity and eventually lead to a disease called 'popcorn lung,'" said Dr. Fuller. "In addition to your breathing, if your attention span gets hit by the nicotine and you can't pay attention to your game, you won't be playing at peak performance."

If those aren't reasons enough to warn teens off vaping, consider this:

  • Some e-cigarettes tested positive for an ingredient used in anti-freeze, others are known to contain formaldehyde.
  • Poison Control has gotten calls about young adults and children ingesting the chemicals in the cartridges. These poisonings can lead to seizures.
  • Second-hand smoke is an issue. The unknown chemicals in the vapors you exhale can harm your friends and family.

"I've had this conversation with my own teenagers, and it's important for other parents to do the same. There are just too many unknowns with e-cigarettes and vaping for anyone to feel safe doing it," said Dr. Fuller.

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