WNY Family Magazine July 2018 - Page 36

about it, you’re holding up a grenade to your face and if it goes off, that’s going to be a very bad story.”  What’s the appeal? According to Katz, kids think vap- ing is cool, healthier than smoking ciga- rettes, and a stress reliever. Leaving no odors other than a light, fruity scent, e- cigarettes are easy to conceal in a pocket or purse. They often resemble pens or USB flash drives, like JUUL, which is especially popular among kids. 101 — by Christa Melnyk Hines J ust as cigarette smoking drops to its lowest level in years, e- cigarette use, a.k.a. “vaping,” is exploding among middle and high school students. Teens may blow off the trend as harmless, but experts think oth- erwise. “It’s important to understand that this is a drug delivery system. In some ways, calling it ‘vaping’ almost makes it sound benign and not dangerous,” says Dr. Stephen Thornton, a medical toxi- cologist and emergency room physician. What are e-cigarettes? Initially marketed as smoking ces- sation devices, e-cigarettes are elec- tronic nicotine delivery systems that use lithium-ion battery operated devices to heat up and vaporize a flavored, liquid solution called e-juice. The user then in- hales the vaporized solution.  What’s in the e-juice? The e-juice usually contains nico- tine extract, which is mixed with propyl- ene glycol (typically used in inhalers) and flavorings, like mint, fruit loops, gummy bears and passion fruit. Since solutions aren’t currently regulated by the FDA, buyers have no way of knowing how much nicotine is in a product, including those that claim to contain zero nicotine. “Right now many manufacturers are putting whatever they want in it, in- cluding potentially harmful chemicals,” says Jamie Katz, a youth drug and alco- hol prevention coordinator. 36 WNY Family July 2018 What are the risks? Chemicals found in e-cigarette va- por include aldehydes (formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, and acetone); diacetyl, a highly toxic chemical linked to lung disease; volatile organic com- pounds found in car exhaust; and heavy metals like nickel, lead and chromium. “Unfortunately, we still need more time to know exactly what kind of short or long-term problems you’re going to get from exposure to these chemicals,” Thornton says. “Some products are probably safe if you eat or drink them, but once you start inhaling them into the lungs and you start vaporizing them, it changes t he dynamics.” In the short-term, users may be more prone to viral infections in the lungs and asthmatic types of reactions. Hospitals are also treating more people with traumatic injuries related to the de- vices exploding in their faces or in their pockets. “I don’t think people appreciate how much power is in the devices in order to get the heat that vaporizes the solution,” Thornton says. “If you think Then, there’s the celebrity effect. “An adolescent sees celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Katherine Heigl using these products openly in public, and there’s that diminished sense that it’s not a harmful product,” says Kevin Kufeldt, an adolescent treatment center program manager. Vape “cloud chasing” competitions featured online, in which people blow clouds and do tricks with e-cigarettes add to the attraction. Creating a new generation of addicts? With candy flavored solutions and labels like Unicorn Milk, Cotton Candy and Zombie Juice, many experts believe that e-cig marketers are specifically tar- geting kids.  “I doubt there’s a 45-year-old guy out there who says ‘Man, I really need to have my spearmint bubble gum vape today,’” Thornton says. A JUUL pod contains 59 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter of liquid, which the manufacturer says is equivalent to the amount of nicotine in a pack of ciga- rettes. “On a milligram per milligram ba- sis, nicotine is ten times more potent than heroin,” Kufeldt says.”Kids will tell me they think they actually smoke more with e-cigarettes than with a tra- Many youngsters find and ingest the e-juices, mistaking them for candy or actual juice. Liquid nicotine is extremely poisonous. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, tremors and rapid heart beat. In severe cases, seizures and death can occur. Sources: Dr. Stephen Thornton; American Association of Poison Control Centers