Pa. health official discusses dangers of e-cigarettes with students

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected]
Robinson -

WILKES-BARRE — State Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Dr. Loren Robinson told students Thursday e-cigarettes may be popular, but they are not safe.

Robinson addressed students at Pequea Valley Intermediate School in Lancaster County, urging them to consider the dangerous effects e-cigarettes and vape pens have on their health.

“E-cigarettes have become popular over the last few years, but the reality is that they are not safe,” Robinson said in a news release. “Smoking e-cigarettes delivers cancer-causing chemicals to the body, and the flavoring used by many teens in these devices appears to be the most dangerous. Normalizing smoking for young adults through e-cigarettes introduces them to a lifetime of addiction.”

E-cigarettes are part of a class of devices known as Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), which include e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, e-cigars, e-pipes and vape pens. These devices are, as the name indicates, still nicotine delivery products. E-cigarettes are not an FDA-approved aid to quit smoking.

FDA regulations prohibit the sale of ENDS to teens. From 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette use in the U.S. increased by more than 900 percent, according to a report by the Surgeon General.

Even more alarming is that one in every four high school seniors in Pennsylvania reports having used an e-cigarette in a 30-day period, which is 10 percent higher than the national average. More teens used e-cigarettes in Pennsylvania in 2015, according to the 2015 Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS), than used cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

Most of the teens involved in that survey reported using flavoring in their vaping device, while others reported using nicotine, marijuana or hash oil.

According to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics:

• Teens who use e-cigarettes are up to three times more likely to have dangerous chemicals in their systems than teens who do not use, including chemicals known to cause cancer.

• Teens who use e-cigarettes are also twice as likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes.

• Youth and young adults are also at-risk for long-term, long-lasting effects of exposing their developing brains to nicotine. These risks include nicotine addiction, mood disorders, and permanent lowering of impulse control. Nicotine also can harm parts of the brain that control attention and learning.

There are a number of resources on smoking cessation, including a free quitline — 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-855-DEJELO-YA in Spanish).

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By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.