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Vaping now an epidemic among US high schoolers

A sharp spike in vaping and the use of e-cigarettes by students has grabbed the attention of the US Food and Drug Adm...

Posted: Apr 7, 2018 11:56 AM
Updated: Apr 7, 2018 11:57 AM

A sharp spike in vaping and the use of e-cigarettes by students has grabbed the attention of the US Food and Drug Administration.

The rapid spread of the fad was flagged in a 2016 report from the US surgeon general. It cited a 900% increase in e-cigarette use by high school students from 2011 to 2015, and the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey noted that 1.7 million high school students said they had used e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days.

Survey: 1.7 million high school students used e-cigarettes in previous 30 days

Vapor product supporters say their aim is to provide tools that adults need to quit smoking

For middle school students, the number was 500,000.

Now, the alarming trend is prompting concerns that some companies are taking direct aim at teenagers by tailoring and marketing e-cigarettes and vaping products to younger users.

"No kid should be using any tobacco product," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said.

"We're going to be taking some enforcement actions very soon to target companies that we think are marketing products in ways that they're deliberately appealing to kids," Gottlieb told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Flavors 'appealing to kids'

Analysts point out that flavors like tutti frutti, cotton candy and sour gummy worms are likely to attract some younger users to e-cigarettes.

Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has conducted a study on the presence of artificial flavoring chemicals in e-cigarettes. "To me, these are products that are really appealing to kids. ... Millions of kids are trying these e-cigarette products. Studies show that one in five eighth-graders that currently use tobacco products got there by starting with e-cigarettes.

"So these e-cigarettes are also a gateway for traditional tobacco use for many young kids," he said.

There are warnings on the labels of some vape liquids containing nicotine that are pretty clear: "Nicotine is an addictive chemical; For use by adults 18 and older."

But Bella Kacoyannakis, a 20-year-old from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, who started vaping as a teenager, said that's not going to stop her.

"I definitely think about ... how it affects what I'm putting into my lungs, because I don't really know too much about it. ... I'm not even sure how it turns into vape. ... But I haven't been too concerned about it, obviously, because I'm still using it," she said.

Advocate: Vape shop customers are adults

American Vaping Association President Greg Conley began doing advocacy work for vapor products in 2010.

The advocacy organization says it does not represent the industry and does not speak for it. The association takes sponsorships from independent vapor companies as well as donations from individual consumers.

"Our main concern is adults having the tools that they need to quit smoking. Young adults, if they are not smokers, they absolutely should not start using a nicotine product," Conley said.

"Spend some time in a vape shop and see the customers that come in for these wildly named products. They are adults. They are over 25 years old, and they are the same type that watches 'Family Guy' on Sunday nights.

"It's something that is a little lurid, appeals to adults. We're not a country of serious, uptight people that just want straightforward products."

Vaping invasion

As e-cigarettes invade high schools across the country, teachers like Jennifer Walden have found that students are even vaping during class.

Walden, of King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham, Massachusetts, recalled two students "seated in the back two desks in the corner. They had their hands kind of up ... and they had a blue light coming in between their hands."

Francis Thompson, the principal of Jonathan Law High School in Milford, Connecticut, is facing a similar problem. "(The) most popular form, it's a Juul. It looks like a flash drive, it's not, and the kids can just tuck it away when they're done. So, how're you going to know?" he asked.

A general lack of knowledge about e-cigarettes is also problematic, school administrators point out. "The kids that I talk to believe that there's nothing in there that's dangerous. They don't think there's anything more than water," Thompson said.

That's not the case, Gupta said. "It's not water. It's called e-liquid, and when heated by the coil, it changes to an aerosol."

What is e-liquid?

Dr. Ana Navas-Acien, a professor of environmental health sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, recently released a study measuring metal levels in this aerosol.

The research found chromium, nickel, zinc and lead, Navas-Acien said.

"Comparing what was initially in the liquid, that was very, very tiny amount (of lead) practically undetectable. But after the e-liquid was heated through the e-cigarette device, lead levels were then 25 times higher," she said.

"There is no safe level of lead."

Without standard regulations requiring uniform warning labels, people aren't always fully aware of what they're consuming.

When Kacoyannakis read for the first time the warning label on her Juul box, she was enlightened.

"It says 'California Proposition 65 warning: This product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer or birth defects, or other reproductive harm.' OK, I never read that before. Doesn't make me feel great, but that's what it says, so, I guess, yeah, that is the only warning. But that's probably the only warning that needs to be on there."

Did the warning change her mind about vaping? "No, definitely not," she said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1118335

Reported Deaths: 17712
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1455892240
Lake724831254
Allen67063882
Hamilton51060487
St. Joseph49820649
Elkhart40268546
Vanderburgh34714497
Tippecanoe30808276
Johnson27696467
Hendricks26313385
Porter25657386
Madison21131455
Clark20238279
Vigo19059309
LaPorte17192261
Howard16770314
Delaware16761303
Monroe16628220
Kosciusko14293167
Hancock13113186
Bartholomew12983190
Warrick12210190
Wayne12090269
Floyd12011226
Grant11998245
Morgan10409192
Boone9869124
Noble9316122
Henry9177169
Marshall9152147
Dearborn8970100
Dubois8835140
Shelby8281130
Cass8167128
Lawrence8057185
DeKalb7817109
Jackson770793
Huntington7661115
Gibson7102118
Montgomery7101123
Harrison6954100
Knox6915116
Steuben669089
Whitley659660
Miami6595113
Putnam645085
Clinton627179
Wabash6221111
Jasper613192
Jefferson5856105
Ripley557294
Adams542281
Daviess5076117
Scott491580
Wells4836105
White478469
Greene4701101
Clay464662
Decatur4611110
Fayette452496
Jennings452067
LaGrange427491
Posey410044
Randolph3944107
Washington390956
Fountain375964
Fulton364874
Spencer362247
Starke355574
Owen353577
Sullivan348555
Orange331372
Jay331050
Rush309533
Carroll296239
Franklin292744
Perry290553
Vermillion283658
Tipton251167
Parke250130
Pike248644
Blackford222144
Pulaski210359
Newton182452
Brown177550
Crawford169129
Benton168417
Martin152120
Switzerland147612
Warren135816
Union122616
Ohio92413
Unassigned0595

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1717876

Reported Deaths: 26851
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1793291843
Cuyahoga1681592655
Hamilton1137721544
Montgomery805721405
Summit719531210
Lucas630291027
Butler56852814
Stark538501183
Lorain42330645
Warren35959417
Mahoning35798788
Lake32314501
Clermont31289369
Trumbull27344620
Delaware27206185
Licking26658344
Medina26042353
Fairfield24638287
Greene24378373
Clark22122390
Portage21257283
Richland21102342
Wood20128248
Allen18969326
Miami17338352
Columbiana16905335
Muskingum16726207
Wayne15740307
Tuscarawas14454362
Marion13332196
Ashtabula12732237
Erie12685199
Scioto12475188
Pickaway12260155
Ross11719226
Hancock11529175
Geauga10934179
Lawrence10653172
Belmont10459234
Huron9805159
Jefferson9632228
Union957375
Sandusky9348166
Seneca8917161
Knox8792176
Washington8688159
Darke8399181
Athens838197
Ashland8029152
Auglaize7943120
Shelby7511135
Defiance7358117
Crawford7281150
Fulton7215113
Brown7173116
Logan7003111
Guernsey696186
Mercer6933100
Highland6745120
Clinton6526106
Williams650099
Madison649790
Preble6274140
Putnam6244122
Jackson581597
Champaign580887
Perry566779
Coshocton5645108
Ottawa5641102
Morrow517765
Fayette494072
Hardin4895100
Gallia471478
Van Wert467895
Pike465578
Adams4592110
Henry434280
Hocking410193
Holmes3999141
Wyandot377675
Carroll366178
Paulding325451
Meigs305961
Monroe235961
Noble220349
Morgan216939
Harrison213153
Vinton187638
Unassigned06
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