KDA Today

KDA Today

For Immediate Release

Date: Aug 20th, 2019
Contact: Dr. Beverly Largent
Phone: 800-292-1855
Email: kda@kyda.org

For your Patients’ Sake, learn about Vaping and be Ready with Answers

Do you consider yourself a health care provider? Coincidentally, through the various blogs that cross my e-mail feed, this question has been a hot topic. I have read about the depression of being a tooth carpenter to the vision of providing immunizations and diagnostic testing and appropriate referral for our patients of record. I suspect that most of you, like me, fall somewhere in the middle of these descriptions of our profession. Converging with these thoughts are articles from my local newspaper, and personal e-mails from school principals about the vaping epidemic. Somewhere there is a message, and I believe it is that I (we) can make a difference for my teenage, and preteen patients. First, we must understand this emerging tragic health issue. We must have conversations with our patients and parents. Finally, we must support organizations that lobby for a change. I can help with the understanding, and the rest is up to you. I know that as a health care provider, you want to know.

As a lifelong non-smoker and someone far removed from youth, I think a definition is in order. “Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that actually consists of fine particles. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer as well as respiratory and heart disease.” (Center on Addiction; https: www.centeronaddiction.org/). Vaping can be accomplished using an e-cigarette which looks like a cigarette, vape pens which resemble a fountain pen, or the most popular JUUL which looks like a USB flash drive. JUULs, which are most popular with the teen crowd, account for seventy two percent of the market share of vaping products in the United States (Center on Addiction).

Vaping was first marketed in 2007 as a tool to help smokers quit the habit. The thought was that because the amount of nicotine could be gradually reduced, it could help a smoker wean him or herself from the habit. This theory has not been proven. In fact, we now know that most smokers who start vaping do not give up traditional cigarettes, but continue with both habits. Unfortunately, vaping has become most popular with middle school and high school youth. The compact JUUL gives the user a lot of privacy and can be hidden from parents and teachers. One JUUL contains the same amount of nicotine as 20 combustible cigarettes. The JUUL is specifically marketed to the teen crowd because of the various flavors, including watermelon, vampire blood and bubblegum. An added advantage of the JUUL is that there is little or no odor from the nicotine. Because nicotine salts are used, there is less irritation on the throat than traditional cigarettes. This is a match made in heaven for the young person who starts to use nicotine. An added enticement is that the JUUL pod can be decorated to the user’s taste with the use of “skins”. It is obvious that marketing for the JUUL is directed toward the teen and preteen.

The use of vaping products has produced a new disease, labeled adolescent nicotine use disorder. There is currently no approved treatment for youngsters addicted to nicotine. People who are addicted usually start their use of nicotine prior to their 18th birthday. Electronic nicotine delivery systems can addict an entire generation of children who will develop lung disease and heart disease. The use of nicotine can harm adolescent brain development, which can reduce attention span, learning and impulse control. The CDC states that nicotine use in young people can prime the brain for addiction to other drugs.

In Kentucky, House Bill 11 was signed into law by the governor on April 9th of this year. This bill prohibits the use of tobacco in schools and includes all electronic nicotine delivery systems. Schools have until July of 2020 to enact policies that are mandated by this bill.

Currently, Kentucky has no 21 Tobacco legislation. This legislation has been passed by 16 states and the District of Columbia and mandates that an individual must be 21 to legally purchase tobacco products. In Kentucky, a person must be 18 years old to purchase tobacco products.

The Tobacco Free Youth Act was filed in the U.S. senate by Mitch McConnell and Tim Kaine in May 2019. This federal legislation, if passed, would require a person to be 21 years of age to purchase tobacco and all vaping products in the United States. States could then make more restrictive laws if desired.

The Kentucky Incentives for Prevention Report for 2018 reports: “E-cigarettes have now surpassed alcohol as the most widely used substance among young people in Kentucky. Following a decrease in use from 2014 to 2016, reported rates of electronic cigarette use by Kentucky 10th graders shot up 11.4 percentage points to 23.2% in 2018. Statewide, the percentage of 10th graders responding that they had used an e-cigarette on at least one day in the past 30 days jumped from 11.4% in 2016 to 23.2% in 2018.”

The chance that you have someone in your practice who uses some type of electronic nicotine delivery system is very high. Can you recognize that person? Are you prepared to have a conversation with a young person or his/her parent about vaping and its inherent dangers? Do you have a question on your health history about vaping? As health care providers, these are questions we should consider, and be ready with the answers.

Helpful Links...

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and Center on Addiction
The Teen Vaping Trend – What Parents Need to Know
https://drugfree.org/parent-blog/the-teen-vaping-trend-what-parents-need-to-know/

National Institute on Drug Abuse
Tobacco, Nicotine, and E-Cigarettes
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes/how-many-adolescents-use-tobacco

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Youth and Tobacco Use
https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/youth_data/tobacco_use/index.htm

Mayo Clinic
Teen smoking: 10 ways to keep teens smoke-free
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teen-smoking/art-20047069

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