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Death by Vaping on the Rise

Within only a few days, five states — Indiana, California, Oregon, Illinois and Minnesota —reported deaths linked to vaping; one in Los Angeles County had pre-existing health conditions that may have contributed to their death, according to Reuters.

Welcome to the new — and dangerous — world of vaping.

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As the numbers continue to grow, health officials are investigating more than 450 cases of possible vaping-related illnesses in at least 33 states. So far the CDC has confirmed that 215 cases are linked to e-cigarettes — a product that has been advertised and sold as being safer than conventional cigarettes.

Juul Labs, the leading supplier of e-cigarettes or e-cigs, spent thousands to fund school programs where they targeted potential teenage users to promote their nicotine products. Two teenagers told Congress that a representative from Juul had repeatedly told their class that their e-cigarettes were safe and, at the same time, attempted to appeal to the rebellious side of teens.

Vaping is often marketed as a means of helping adults stop smoking; however, there is not enough evidence to prove that it works. Many think e-cigs are safe and harmless because the vapor is usually odorless, making it difficult to detect once the device has been put away.

Electronic cigarettes are sometimes called e-hookahs, and vape pens look like regular cigarettes, cigars or pipes, while others look like USB flash drives, pens and other everyday items. E-cigs are popular with high school and middle school students, who think that vaping is safe and harmless. The fact that there’s a difference in the “first experience” of vaping compared to conventional smoking is a factor too.

The first time an adolescent or teen inhales regular cigarette smoke, it’s usually harsh, unpleasant and not a pleasurable experience, which discourages some teens from picking up the habit altogether. However, this deterrent doesn’t exist with vaping, a process that is typically smoother and laced with flavor. Not only that, the nicotine salts in Juul’s vaping products deliver more nicotine than other e-cigarettes and can be delivered in smaller devices.

Since many teens start vaping because they believe it’s relatively harmless and better than smoking, it increases the chances that they’ll become addicted to the nicotine, and ultimately will move on to traditional cigarettes. What’s worse, children as young as 11 are now becoming addicted to e-cigs and that nicotine right along with their teen counterparts — and, no matter what their age, they’re all prevented the use of many of the adult quit-smoking products on the market today.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls tobacco use the "single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States," killing more than 480,000 Americans every year and 41,000 from exposure to secondhand smoke.” As a result of antismoking laws and tobacco danger awareness,

the number of people smoking traditional cigarettes has dropped. But, on the flip side, the number of teens who vape is on the rise. Since 2011, teens have been smoking less and vaping more. From 2011 to 2015, e-cig use among high school students increased an astounding 900%.

Some of the nation's top health authorities now believe teen vaping has reached epidemic proportions, affecting some 3.6 million underage users.  Dr. Deepa Camenga, a pediatrician who is board certified in addiction medicine, recommends you talk early to your children about e-cigarettes in age appropriate language. When you see an advertisement, use that as a springboard for discussion. Don’t be afraid to talk about the news reports of the deaths and illnesses, and if they’re mature enough to “handle” the photos, go ahead and show them news photos and video that feature the sick teens. Also keep the lines of communication open so if your teens are already vaping, that they can feel comfortable in sharing that with you so you can get them help to stop.

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