This press release published at the request of the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County.
The federal government declared youth vaping, or e-cigarette use, a nationwide epidemic. In light of these concerns and the misinformation surrounding this topic, the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida and the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County (DOH-Alachua) are helping educate parents, educators, pediatricians, and partners on what they need to know about vaping and youth. This year’s Tobacco Free Florida Week, April 22, through 28, 2019, is themed “E-Epidemic: Vaping and Youth.”
Facts about vaping:
- Youth vaping has increased dramatically across the country and in Florida. In 2018, about 25% of Florida high school students reported current use of electronic vaping – a 58% increase compared to 2017. In Alachua County, 15.7% of high school students reported current use of electronic vaping in 2018.
- Youth are vaping at much higher rates compared to adults. One in four Florida high school students are vaping. Only about 4% of Florida.
- The long-term health effects of e-cigarettes are still unknown. E-cigarette devices heat a liquid – usually containing nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals – and produce an aerosol. This aerosol, aka “vapor,” is not water. Some of the ingredients in e-cigarette aerosol could also be harmful to the lungs in the long-term, according to the CDC. For example, some e-cigarette flavorings may be safe to eat but not to inhale because the gut can process more substances than the lungs.
- E-cigarettes, including JUUL, typically contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Youth may be more sensitive to nicotine and feel dependent on nicotine sooner compared to adults. According to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod (the “liquid” refill) contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. JUUL uses nicotine salts, which can allow high levels of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation.
- The brain continues to develop until the early to mid-20s, and the developing brain is more vulnerable to the negative effects of nicotine. The effects include reduced impulse control, deficits in attention and cognition, and mood disorders. Using nicotine in adolescence may also increase the risk for future addiction to other drugs.
- Evidence suggests that youth who use e-cigarettes may be at greater risk of starting to smoke regular cigarettes.
“The youth vaping epidemic is affecting the public health of Alachua County which is evident through the rising percentages of students who currently use e-cigarettes,” said Madelynn Lovelady, Health Policy Educator at the FDOH-Alachua. “This community has made considerable efforts to address these issues at the local level through policy and system changes, saving lives of the youth in our county. Tobacco Free Florida is partnering with parents and educators to provide reliable information and resources to address these issues.”
Parents and educators should advise youth of the dangers of nicotine; discourage youth tobacco use in any form, including e-cigarettes; and set a positive example by being tobacco-free themselves. Tobacco Free Florida is taking steps to educate Floridians about this troubling epidemic through social media campaigns and an educational blog post, which can be found at the Tobacco Free Florida website.
For more information, contact Ryan McGuire at 352-334-7914 or Ryan.McGuire@flhealth.gov.