Vaping: Trending and Harmful to Your Teen

Many tweens and teens are convinced vaping is harmless, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“It’s easily available and many children think it is safe and just flavored water vapor,” said Christopher Rivera, MD, a family medicine physician with Memorial Physician Services-Lincoln. “The reality is that it’s a drug and addictive just like any tobacco product.”

The use of e-cigarettes, which come in a wide variety of different flavors, has become one of the fastest growing trends among the tween and teen crowd, in large part because of the perception that it’s “safe.” But it’s not.

Poison control centers have managed 2,439 exposure cases about e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine as of July 31, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Debbie Yeaman, RN, a registered respiratory therapist at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, said any inhaled substance, such as vaping, has the potential to irritate and inflame the lung tissue, which could lead to the swelling of the airways in the lungs due to the tightening of surrounding smooth muscle tissue.

“The long-term effects of vaping could cause hypersensitive reactions that not only constantly recur but also prove to be difficult to treat,” Yeaman said.

Rivera pointed to targeted marketing tactics as a culprit in vaping’s growing popularity. “The industry is using the same tactics that were used by tobacco companies several decades ago. They are denying the possible health risks that can occur in using tobacco products.”

Rivera agreed that smokeless tobacco contains fewer chemicals than cigarettes, but that doesn’t make it a safer habit.

“It still contains several harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, which is known to cause cancer,” he said. “The problem is this product has not been around very long, and we don’t know the long-term health risks associated with using e-cigarettes, and we won’t know for another 10 to 15 years.”

For more information on vaping and its negative health effects on young people, contact your child’s pediatrician or check in with a physician at Memorial Physician Services.