So, as with everything, there is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that amongst teens such as yourselves, cigarette smoking actually seems to be down. Which is GREAT! Great for all the reasons we discussed here: Smoking is bad. You shouldn't do it. Blah blah blah. But of course I must follow that with the bad news: Use of e-cigs, or vaping, DOUBLED among middle school and high school students in ONE YEAR! (2011 to 2012). Yikes! That means that 10% of high school students have tried vaping.
Since knowledge is power, and I always want you all to have the straight talk that you need to make decisions that are right for you, here we go talking about e-cigs. Tough part here, is not all that much is known about e-cigs – so don’t assume that less information means that vaping and e-cigs are better for you than the older way to get nicotine in. Here is some info for you to chew on.
What are e-cigs exactly?
E-cigs are battery operated devises that heat up liquid to make a vapor that you inhale just like a cigarette. The vapor has nicotine (that addictive thing in tobacco), flavors (like berry, fruit, chocolate, mint, etc) and Mysterious Chemicals. The reason I write Mysterious Chemicals is that there are more than 250 different types of technofoggers. All made throughout the world. Without any regulation or quality control to make sure certain things stay out of them. Like chemicals that cause cancer. Or that a certain amount of nicotine is in them. So you never know how much you’re getting. They can look like a whole bunch of things – cigarettes, sparkly pens, cool tubes. I even heard they can look like thumb drives. Here are a couple of pix for you:
How do teens get a hold of e-cigs?Now, this is not a How-To guide for you. Sorry. But I am gonna tell you in case you are wondering where that classmate of yours got it….. or you think they must be safe if they are so easy to come by…. It turns out that 20 states have actually banned sales of e-cigs to minors (teens younger than 18). But that does leave more than half of the 50 states without laws on the books. And of course, there is that fabulous World Wide Web. Internet sales are HUGE and can distribute product from anywhere in the world.
But I heard they help you quit smoking – whaddaya say to THAT?!Sadly, the studies just aren’t there to say that they do help quit smoking. In order to be approved to be sold as a tool or drug, really, to help you quit smoking, there are specific requirements about the number of studies and types of studies that need to be done, before they can be sold to do that. And the studies that are out there aren’t in teens. And, as we have discussed before, teen brains are different than adult brains – they are still being built.
But they have to be safer, right?Well, again good news and bad news. Good news is – they don’t have tar or carbon monoxide (yep smoking tobacco makes you breathe in CARBON MONOXIDE!). Bad news is they have all sorts of other Mysterious Chemicals in there. Some are known to be cancer causing. But you don’t know what you’re getting – remember, more than 250 brands, none regulated to make sure you know what is in whatever you are getting. And international laws are different from country to country. And since they are so new, we have no idea what happens when people smoke them for months, years, decades. Big mystery at this point. So, you might grow up, have kids of your own, and THEN have health issues from vaping that we couldn’t even imagine now. SO it is kind of like the lottery. A bad lottery. More like Russian Roulette.
Any more bad news?Why yes. Actually the worst news is that the way you inhale nicotine through the vapor is incredibly addictive. It is like freebasing nicotine. And is very similar to the way it is absorbed through your lungs with an actually tobacco cigarette. The problem is here, back to the wide variety of e-cigs out there, you don’t have a measured amount of nicotine in these things. So you could easily be having a pretty good amount. That Deeply Satisfying feeling you get is nicotine acting on your brain to make you want more, More, MORE. There we go – you are addicted! Remember that because teen brains are different than adults, teens get addicted with much smaller amounts of nicotine than adults. Many teens show signs of addiction even at low levels of smoking. Low like 3 cigarettes a week. Low like smoking for less than a month.
And again, a refresher about nicotine and teen brain development: Your brain is still developing, and those nerves are still growing and connecting. So if you expose your brain stuff to nicotine, you may actually grow a “reward pathway” in your brain that makes you go back for this stuff. Meaning those nerves fire off to make you feel gooooooooood when you smoke. And those pathways will stick for the rest of your life making it hard to overpower when you decide, enough is enough and you want to quit. You know what, it takes only a DAY for the brain to rewire itself from a SINGLE dose of nicotine.
Hey, I know the ads are cool. Glamorous. Sexy. And mmmmm, those flavors. And your favorite celebrity SWEARS by them. Look, don’t be a sucker. The e-cig companies are advertising like the cigarette companies did way back in the 1940s and 50s. Yes, that is SOOOOOO last millennium. And boy did they work then – really got people smoking! The thing is, now those types of cigarette ads are illegal. SO just cuz you see more ads for e-cigs, does NOT mean they are safer than cigarettes.
Here’s something to think about – there is a big worry that teens that start out using vaporettes will get hooked on the nicotine, and might switch over to tobacco smoking later in life. There is a HUGE relationship between smoking a cigarette in the last month and smoking in the future. And remember, all those adults that are trying to quit smoking, well almost all of ‘em who smoke every day, had their first cigarette by 18.
So, you disagree? Feel free to drop in a comment below (you can even stay anonymous, but I check em before I post em cuz I don’t want spam here). Join the discussion!
You are smarter than technofoggers. Don’t get all distracted by all the smoke and mirrors about vaping.