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Vaping influence comes home to roost

Johnson City Press • Feb 13, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Vaping proponents have touted their nicotine-filled devices as a way to help people stop smoking. Just the opposite could be true, as increasing evidence suggests that vaping may encourage young people to smoke.

The Centers for Disease Control is correlating recent trends in teen tobacco use with the rise of vaping. Teen smoking had been falling steadily for decades until the last three years, and the timing matches right up with the rise in vaping.

The CDC’s numbers indicate about 8 percent of high schoolers said they had recently smoked cigarettes in 2018, and about 2 percent of middle schoolers did. Those findings were about the same seen in similar surveys in 2016 and 2017. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration recently reported that the use of electronic cigarettes had increased nearly 80 percent among high schoolers and 50 percent among middle schoolers since last year.

The CDC also found that about 2 in 5 high school students who used a vaping or tobacco product used more than one kind, and that the most common combination was e-cigarettes and cigarettes.

No one should be surprised. Citing similar data, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned parents about the potential last November, saying he would “not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes.” The FDA outlined new initiatives regarding nicotine products, including a review of flavoring in e-cigarettes and e-liquids, which help draw young people into the habit.

As reported this week by the Associated Press, not all researchers agree with the CDC’s correlation between the increase in vaping and the flatline on teen smoking. Cigarette smoking is still declining in some states, and another survey found that smoking has continued to drop among 12th graders.

So while the CDC and FDA do not yet have the smoking gun on vaping and cigarettes, enough evidence is mounting that parents should be paying more attention to what their kids are inhaling.

The alleged tobacco gateway is just another reason aside from the potential harm from vaping itself. The FDA also is exploring a product standard for e-cigarettes that could include levels of toxicants and impurities in propylene glycol, glycerin, and nicotine in e-liquids.

Parents should ask themselves one question: Why allow the risk at all?

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