The truth about vaping

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The perception of e-cigarette use – or vaping – is that it is a safer alternative to smoking, one that saves the users from the nasty consequences that come with tobacco use. Companies even promote e-cigarettes as a way to help smokers quit.

In the largest study ever conducted on the health effects of e-cigarettes, the American Heart Association (AHA) has concluded this is overwhelmingly not the case.

When compared to non-users, e-cigarettes are associated with a 71 percent higher risk for stroke, 59 percent for heart attack and 40 percent for coronary heart disease. And in terms of lung cancer, the inhaled nicotine carries many of the same cancer-causing chemicals as cigarette smoke.

Adding to the concern is seeing who is vaping.

While cigarette smoking among youth has been steadily declining (down to 3.3% of 11th graders according to the 2020 Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth [MiPHY] data for St. Clair County), the group’s e-cigarette usage has soared, with 30.4% of high school juniors reporting having vaped in the past 30 days. Vaping, with its variety of flavors, is now the most common form of nicotine consumption among youth. 

The long-term effects from vaping are unknown, but the dramatic increase in lung disease has caused alarm from parents, public health officials and community leaders statewide.

“We know that nicotine is highly addictive,” said Dr. Sonali Vashi, a pediatrician with McLaren Port Huron. “Teens are more vulnerable than adults to nicotine addiction because their brain is still developing. Nicotine exposure in adolescents can cause lung disease as well as problems with learning and attention. Studies also indicate that teens who vape are also more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes in the future.”

If you are concerned your teen is vaping, click here for resources to help him or her quit.