With 3.6 million youth in the United States using e-cigarettes, it is time to talk about the risks associated with this dangerous behavior. Last year, the CDC found that 1 in 5 high school students (20.8%) and 1 in 20 middle school students (4.9%) are using e-cigarettes.
Regardless of age, using tobacco is never safe, and many e-cigarettes contain nicotine, an addictive substance found in many tobacco products. Nicotine use is dangerous among youth because it can delay brain development. This delay in development can reduce impulse control, and cause mood disorders, poor attention and thinking skills. E-cigarettes can also harm the lungs. With many e-cigarette packages containing information that is false or misleading, these risks remain under the radar for most youth and young adults. E-cigarette use at a young age increases the likelihood of smoking regular cigarettes as individuals get older and can also be linked to addiction to other substances later in life.
People who interact with youth can reduce risk by knowing the signs of using these products. E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes, some of these are perfect for hiding among school supplies. They might look like a USB drive the youth uses for school. They also come in many flavors, some of them aimed towards youth and young adults (i.e., fruit, candy, & dessert). Besides knowing what to look for, the best way to protect youth is to not use tobacco yourself. Children see those who care for them as role models. The more exposure they have to tobacco, the more likely they are to use it themselves.
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