October 15 2019
by Julie Gunlock
Everyone loves the party game/icebreaker “two truths and a lie.”
Can you identify which of the following is NOT true about E-cigarettes and teens?
A: Teen vaping is a problem, not an epidemic.
B: E-cigarette companies produce fruit-flavored vape liquid to attract teens.
C: Nicotine does not cause cancer and other deadly diseases.
Let’s take these statements one at a time:
While teen vaping has inched up in the last ten years, there’s no “teen vaping epidemic” as the CDC and the FDA claim.
According to the CDC, teen vaping increased 78 percent from 2017 to 2018. Yet, if you dig down into the data, you’ll find that the CDC and the FDA is inflating this number in order to make the problem appear worse and to generate support for greater regulations and all out bans on e-cigarette products.
To do this, the CDC included, in its measurement of teen e-cigarette users, those teens that reported vaping ONCE in a 30-day period. Once! Vaping once, twice, even a half-dozen times in a 30-day period does not mean a teen is habitually vaping—which would make them vulnerable to nicotine addiction. Rather, occasional use of an e-cigarette (a few times a month) indicates experimentation on the part of teens—something we know teens like to do with all sorts of products that, despite illegal teen use, are still kept legal for and available to adults.
The far less dramatic truth is, only about 5.7 percent of all high school students in the United States regularly vape.
And vaping is not a gateway to traditional cigarettes. In fact, since the introduction of e-cigarettes into the marketplace, teen smoking has plummeted to a historic low. That shows that instead of leading to smoking, e-cigarettes have de-normalized smoking for teens. That’s good news. And here’s even better news. According to Public Health UK, the Royal College of Physicians and Cancer Research UK (the UK’s largest cancer research agency), e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than cigarettes.
While teens should not be smoking or vaping, knowing that vaping is far less harmful than combustible cigarettes and that only a few teens are regularly vaping, should bring relief to worried parents.
Public health officials and anti-vaping organizations often suggest vaping companies produce sweet, fruit-flavored vape liquid to tempt kids to vape. They suggest fruit flavors like strawberry, mango and orange and dessert flavors like vanilla custard and apple pie only attract kids.
Contrary to the narrative that only teens use “kid-friendly” vape flavors, several studies show that fruit and dessert flavors are the preferred vape liquid flavors of adults and particularly adult former smokers. That means that adults want these flavors in the market—not just teens who are breaking the law buying them.
Of course, there are some manufacturers who produced and marketed flavors specifically to teens. That’s a problem. And the FDA has to do a better job of enforcing the laws that already make it illegal to sell and market e-cigarette products to teens.
In a recent poll on vaping, 79 percent of respondents thought nicotine caused cancer and other cardiovascular and lung diseases. Another 12 percent were unsure. Only 9 percent of respondents knew the correct answer–that nicotine is not linked to cancer or cardiovascular and lung diseases.
Nicotine’s main side effects are an increase in adrenaline, which can cause a faster heartbeat, and a spike in blood pressure—similar results after drinking a cup of coffee. Yet, nicotine is not harmless. It is highly addictive and some small studies have shown it’s harmful to young brains. As such, teens should not vape or smoke.
And it’s important to know that currently, the FDA approves two other nicotine delivery systems—gum and patches—to help people quit traditional cigarettes. If nicotine were carcinogenic, the FDA would never allow it in the marketplace.
Click here to see our video on teen vaping.