MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- Don't let their smoke-free composition or playful flavors fool you: electronic cigarettes and vapes are dangerous products.
These electronic smoking gadgets were originally developed as safer nicotine delivery devices for those trying to kick cigarettes. "If you’re an adult who hasn’t found success with smoking cessation programs, I would rather you vape than smoke a pack of cigarettes," said Dr. Richard Stumacher, chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital. "But these devices are not for children – ever."
Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors, electronic cigarettes have exploded in popularity with children, some even as young as 10. "The use of electronic cigarettes by young people is skyrocketing and, according to experts, addicting a whole new generation to nicotine," said Stumacher.
While the number of youthful cigarette smokers has gone down, the US Surgeon General notes the number of high school students using electronic cigarettes increased 900 percent between 2011 and 2015. "Children as young as middle-schoolers can be seen on the Internet competing to produce the most interesting vapor clouds using e-cigs, vapes and Juuling devices," said Stumacher.
Through the use of modified vaping devices shaped like harmless toys, tobacco companies aggressively target children to promote a nicotine habit from a young age. "Research shows that enticing flavors like Fruity Pebbles and Vanilla lure adolescents into vaping for the first time," said Stumacher. Many devices don’t produce an odor or even visible vapor, so the habit often goes undetected by parents and teachers.
According to the National Institutes of Health, developing brains are uniquely vulnerable to long-term modification from nicotine. Nicotine use can disrupt the maturation process, leaving children with emotional and learning difficulties and a greater susceptibility to addiction to other substances.
"There’s no reason any of our youth should be vaping, but they are," said Stumacher. "It’s rampant in our schools and a whole generation of addicts is being created. It’s important for parents to discourage the trend. Don’t buy these products for your kids."