E-Cigarette use among teens and kids could increase as schools reopen

Local News

(WDVM) — School systems and parents have taken precautions to protect students from the COVID-19 pandemic, but with in-person learning ramping back up, there’s another epidemic that parents should be aware of: the e-cigarette epidemic.

Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes (PAVe) and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids are working together to get the word out and warn parents of the problem that they said starts at school most of the time.

Dorian Fuhrman, who co-founded PAVe, said, “It’s initiation in school. Young kids are getting these devices and they don’t sense danger because they taste so sweet.”

Matthew Myers with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids added, “As youth go back to school, we are concerned that peer pressure will ramp up and kids will see other kids use these products and once again begin to share these products.”

Even though the danger is not easy to spot, it is still there, and thousands of kids are forming nicotine addictions after trying it just one time.

Fuhrman explained, “It’s a special nicotine. It’s not your grandfather’s nicotine. It’s a nicotine salt formulation and that is easily absorbed into your bloodstream and your brain, it’s less hard to inhale and it’s addicting kids by the thousands.”

Pre-pandemic, numbers showed high percentages of teenagers in the DMV smoking e-cigarettes. Below are some charts from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids:

The Toll of Tobacco in Washington, DC
High school students who smoke5.3% (1,600)
Male high school students who smoke cigars (female use much lower)8.6%
High school students who use e-cigarettes13.0%
Kids (under 18) who become new daily smokers each year100
Adults in Washington, DC who smoke12.7% (73,300)
Proportion of cancer deaths in Washington, DC attributable to smoking28.2%
The Toll of Tobacco in Maryland
High school students who smoke5.0% (15,200)
Male high school students who smoke cigars (female use much lower)7.5%
High school students who use e-cigarettes23.0%
Kids (under 18) who become new daily smokers each year1,400
Adults in Maryland who smoke12.7% (598,600)
Proportion of cancer deaths in Maryland attributable to smoking27.3%
The Toll of Tobacco in Virginia
High school students who smoke5.5% (24,400)
Male high school students who smoke cigars (female use much lower)5.8%
High school students who use e-cigarettes19.9%
Kids (under 18) who become new daily smokers each year2,300
Adults in Virginia who smoke14.0% (934,900)
Proportion of cancer deaths in Virginia attributable to smoking28.1%
The Toll of Tobacco in West Virginia
High school students who smoke13.5% (11,800)
Male high school students who smoke cigars (female use much lower)13.5%
High school students who use e-cigarettes35.7%
Kids (under 18) who become new daily smokers each year700
Adults in West Virginia who smoke23.8% (341,100)
Proportion of cancer deaths in West Virginia attributable to smoking32.6%

The numbers did go down during the pandemic; however, they are still at alarming levels.

Fuhrman explained, “They are still at the level when the F.D.A. and Surgeon General declared this an epidemic, with over 3.6 million kids vaping.”

Myers said, “The nicotine, particularly at high levels, is harmful to the developing brain.”

Fuhrman added, “It also affects the lungs. Your lungs develop until the age of 25 or 27, and in the midst of a pandemic, it’s more important than ever to protect our kids developing lungs.”

At this point, the long-term effects of using e-cigarettes are unknown, but it puts kids at a higher risk of becoming cigarette smokers down the road.

Fuhrman said, “Middle school kids are vaping at record numbers, and you should start talking to your kids around the age of nine. Tell them about the dangers of these products.”

Myers said the multiple flavors for vapes and e-cigarettes are fueling the popularity among young people and there is currently legislation in Maryland and the District of Columbia that would ban the sale of these flavored products.

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