Published: Fri, December 21, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Surgeon General Declares E-Cig Use Among Teens An "Epidemic"

Surgeon General Declares E-Cig Use Among Teens An

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But the industry's response wasn't enough to preempt the surgeon general from issuing its official nationwide warning Tuesday.

The latest federal figures show that 3.6 million teens use e-cigarettes, which works out to 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students, the AP reported.

Vaping among U.S. 12th graders, those in their final year of high school, doubled in the past year alone.

While many states and cities have ordinances that forbid people from lighting up a cigarette in public, they're okay with vaping.

Juul now has a 70 percent share in the cartridge-based e-cigarette market in U.S. An e-cigarette cartridge, or pod, can hold the same amount of nicotine as a regular pack of 20 cigarettes. That includes more than 37 percent of high school seniors.

"In the data sets we use, we have never seen use of any substance by America's young people rise as rapidly as e-cigarette use is rising", said Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Food and Drug Administration has announced a series of moves, including proposals that would keep most flavored vape products out of reach for teenagers and efforts to limit online sales.

Mr Adams singled out Juul, a Silicon Valley company, which has come to dominate the e-cigarette market with devices featuring flavours like mango and cucumber.

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Nicotine is not only extremely addictive, but it is risky in its own right. "It's still risky", Mom or Dad is supposed to respond, while mentioning nicotine's potential impact on developing brains and noting that "some e-cigarette batteries have even exploded and hurt people". But as Surgeon General, he takes on the official role as the nation's top doctor and adviser on health matters.

It is only the second public advisory by the surgeon general since he took the post 16 months ago. That effect poses special risks for young people, Adams says.

In his advisory, Adams said he is concerned about the increase in teen "vaping" because it isn't clear what nicotine will do to a developing adolescent brain.

"These products also use nicotine salts, which allow particularly high levels of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation than the free-base nicotine that has traditionally been used in tobacco products, including e-cigarettes", according to the surgeon general.

Doctors at the MD Anderson Cancer Center applauded Adams' statement.

"These are significant actions necessary to curb the disturbing trends we're seeing with teenager and young adults using these products", added Dr. Ernest Hawk, who heads the hospital's cancer prevention wing.

One college is already acting.

"We need to protect our kids from all tobacco products, including all shapes and sizes of e-cigarettes", Adams said in the advisory.

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