Recently parents have been asking us at the New Jersey Family and Addiction Institute about vaping. We also noticed that school districts as well as private schools had to address the rise in vaping among their students. We always seek to educate clients and parents so we took some time to find an answer.
What the Public Says
Public sentiment around e-cigarettes seems to focus on two main points:
- E-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes.
- If teens can vape then they won’t feel the need to experiment with traditional cigarettes.
The e-cigarette industry overall has done a tremendous job running advertisements to perpetuate these points. Traditional cigarettes are viewed as dirty and unsafe while e-cigarettes and vaping are seen as trendy, cool, and safe. Another common message is that teens vaping isn’t the worst thing since it will decrease the likelihood of them smoking traditional cigarettes which are known to be harmful.
What the Research Says
We believe strongly in the importance of looking at what research says instead of what marketing campaigns say. So we looked at research on the safety of e-cigarettes and teen use. What we found was very interesting.
A research team from John Hopkins University explored how safe e-cigarettes actually were in 2018. The researchers found that e-cigarettes can potentially release significant amounts of toxic metals in the vapors that smokers inhale. They found significant levels of lead, chromium, manganese and nickel. These metals leak from the heating coils.
Chronic inhalation of these metals is linked to brain damage and cardiovascular damage, lung issues, liver problems, and even cancer. While this was a relatively small study the results were so strong that it makes it difficult to believe that e-cigarettes are completely safe.
Now I can hear teens saying “Whatever that is only one study.” Normally I would agree with them except there are more studies. A study from NYU found that nicotine from e-cigarettes can cause cancer in mice.
So vaping may be safer than traditional cigarettes but it appears that they are far from safe.
Now the other main point that we explored was the relationship between teen vaping and smoking of traditional cigarettes. Did vaping really cause decrease in teens smoking?
To answer this question we turn to research conducted at USC. Researchers there found that teens who vape are six times more likely to begin smoking as those who never vaped. Researchers attribute this dramatic increase to the normalization of e-cigarette and vaping products.
So What Does This Mean for My Child and What Should I do?
Here at the New Jersey Family and Addiction Institute we will continue to look at research on the effects and safety of e-cigarettes. Parents should be aware that vaping may not be as harmless as the advertisements say. Continue to check back with us here at NJFAI as we will certainly continue to write about this issue as research continues. You can also always reach out to us for consultation.