CHARLOTTE, N.C. (News Release) — School is back in and unfortunately, so is the use of e-cigarettes or vaping among youth. While cigarette smoking rates have reached historic lows (down to eight percent among Mecklenburg County high schoolers), e-cigarette use or vaping has increased to 20 percent, with as many as 40 percent of local youth reporting experimenting with vaping (2017 North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey). Middle schoolers say they use them because a friend or family member does, and high schoolers say it’s because they’re available in different flavors. Whatever the reason, it’s not worth the risks:
- Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which can harm brain development, affect learning, memory and attention, and increase the risk for future drug addictions.
- Youth who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to use regular cigarettes.
- E-cigarette aerosol can contain harmful substances in addition to nicotine like cancer-causing chemicals and flavorings that have been linked to lung disease.
- We don’t know what the long-term consequences of the products are yet.
Parents, teachers, and other youth influencers can help by educating themselves about what e-cigarettes look like – some look like a USB flash drive and are easily mistaken as such – and by having open conversations with their children and students about vaping.
Public Health has tools for parents and educators and offers training for schools, community organizations and health professionals, in addition to promoting tobacco prevention curriculum integration in the schools and peer education initiatives. For more information visit MeckHealth.org.