A couple of months ago a colleague asked me about the new trend among teenagers called "Juuling". This new activity can be described as the use of an electronic cigarette made by the Juul brand. This company has designed and designed an electronic cigarette that is easily hidden and often confused with a USB disk drive. The company's website claims to be committed to eliminating cigarettes and offering smokers a real alternative. Unfortunately, his wit has fueled this trend. Juul has become the best-selling electronic cigarette on the market and is popular with young people.
In 2016, more than 2 million middle and high school students were current users of electronic cigarettes. That same year, the use of these products increased from 1.5 percent to 16 percent among high school students. In 2015, according to the Pennsylvania Youth survey, 31 percent of Adams County's 12th graders had used a vaping device in the past 30 days.
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-vaporizers, are battery-powered devices. It is used to inhale an aerosol, which usually contains nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals. Flavors and availability are cited as the main reasons for the use of these products by young people.
Following these statistics and advocacy efforts to protect young people, in 2016 the Federal Drug Administration decided that electronic cigarettes contain nicotine derived from tobacco, and are subject to government regulation as tobacco products, including the requirement that both in-store and online shoppers are at least 18 years of age.
Government regulations are not the only tool to address the problem. Learning the facts will also help. Any exposure to nicotine among young people is a concern. The adolescent brain is still developing and nicotine has effects on the reward system of the brain and the brain regions involved in emotional and cognitive functions. In addition to the unknown effects on health, preliminary evidence suggests that the use of electronic cigarettes can serve as an introductory product for preadolescents and adolescents who then use other tobacco products, including cigarettes, which are known to cause addiction, a chronic disease of the brain and premature death.
Tobacco use and addiction affect everyone. Experts estimate that between 2009 and 2012, the annual social costs attributable to smoking in the United States ranged between $ 289 and $ 332.5 billion. This includes $ 132.5 to $ 175.9 billion for direct medical care for adults and $ 151 billion for lost productivity due to premature deaths.
Prevention is another tool to support a generation of healthy adults. Young people are influenced by their beliefs about smoking, and although cigarette rates are lower in adolescence, the perception that electronic cigarettes are safe are factors that play a role in the use of these products.
What can parents and caregivers do? Keep an open dialogue about drugs, start early in childhood, create a strong relationship where there is a sense of trust. Keep your mind open, do not come to a discussion with a critical approach. Learn the facts. Do not dismiss the "tendencies" for something meaningless, instead, use them as an opportunity to start a dialogue. Provide healthy alternatives to children and stay active in your community.
For more information or to participate in tobacco prevention efforts in the community, contact the Working Group on Tobacco Prevention at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 717 337 4264, ext. 6.
Yeimi Gagliardi is a certified Freedom from Smoking facilitator and health educator for WellSpan Community Health and Wellness and president of the Tobacco Prevention Task Force of Healthy Adams County.