• Addiction, Children, Parenting

by Mark Vonnegut, M.D.

It’s now clear that electronic cigarettes, also known as vaping, are more addictive than regular cigarettes and a major personal and public health hazard.  Electronic nicotine delivery systems were allegedly developed as a way to help adult smokers quit conventional cigarettes, but marketing has always been directed at teenager who have never smoked.  Teenagers buy and smoke 90% of the nicotine delivery products doubled last year and will likely double again this year.  The number of high schools in Massachusetts where there is no vaping is very close to zero.  It’s so easy to hide.

Addiction happens very quickly.  Children think that they’re not addicted because initially there are no symptoms of withdrawal for about a month.  But the longer they smoke, this withdrawal lag time gets shorter and shorter.  In a relatively short period of time, making it a weekend without nicotine becomes more and more challenging.  Getting off e-cigarettes is harder than getting off of conventional cigarettes.

Our children and we, as their parents, have been led to believe that electronic cigarettes are much less dangerous than they are, with misleading claims that they are safer than conventional cigarettes.  They are not.  The term vaping itself is misleading.  There is no water or “vapor.”  The e-cigarette delivers a fine particulate, chemically complex, dust that is inhaled along with the nicotine. The product damages normal lung tissue.  Most vape “liquid” is produced in China with very little control surrounding its ingredients.  Some children had more severe reactions and ended up in ICU’s.  The industry’s claim that the product hasn’t been proven to cause cancer is based entirely on the fact e-cigarettes haven’t been around very long.  The chance that e-cigarettes won’t eventually be proven to be carcinogenic is zero.

The tobacco industry makes $300 billion a year and needs e-cigarettes and our children to keep that income stream going.  The purchase point for a majority of these devices and accessories is online, using an Amazon account.

In addition to educating yourself and your children, you can write or call your state senator and representative and urge them to support Senate Bill 1279 and House Bill 1902, which will outlaw flavoring tobacco products which directly and successfully target the teen market.  The current favorite is “mango.”  What could be more harmless and maybe even healthy than inhaling mango vapor?