Surgeon General Deems E-Cigarette Use Among Young People A ‘Major Public Health Concern’

By Saranya Palanisamy | Dec 09, 2016 10:46 AM EST

Smoking e-cigarettes is one of the "major public health concerns," noted the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in a report released on Thursday, Dec. 8.

Murthy, who said that there is a big-time need for research on health impacts of "vaping," noted that smoking e-cigarettes is definitely not a harmless habit. He also pointed out that use of e-cigarettes is on the rise among teens.

Effects Of E-Cigarette Use On Teens

The surgeon added that he is concerned that e-cigarettes may cause the upcoming generation who aren't exposed to smoking habit addicted to nicotine. He also noted that if early exposure to nicotine in teen results in the use of one or another kind of tobacco product, it would push the country backward in terms of tobacco use.

Murthy explained that nicotine is injurious to developing brain regardless of the means of exposure. "Your kids are not an experiment," Murthy noted in a public service announcement that is released with the report.

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E-Cigarettes vs. Regular Cigarettes

Though e-cigarettes are considered as safer alternative to conventional cigarettes, it is not completely free of harmful ingredients. The e-cigarettes are filled with liquid nicotine that is converted into inhalable vapor with the help of installed batteries. While both forms of cigarettes contain nicotine, e-cigarettes do not generate tar as in regular ones.

However, there are no evidences by far on health outcomes of vaping and how vaping helps smokers abstain from smoking conventional cigarettes. Meanwhile, official reports released last year have it that 16 percent of high school children use one or other kind of e-cigarettes. That includes students that haven't smoked a regular cigarette before.

About 38 percent of high school children were found to be using e-cigarettes in 2015, whereas the rate was only 13.4 percent in 2014.

Meanwhile, Terry Pechacek, a professor in the school of public health at Georgia State University, said that nicotine is observed to be dangerous to adolescent brains in experiments. However, it is better than regular cigarette in terms of ingestion of carcinogens in addition to nicotine, he added.

Regulations On E-Cigarettes

As far as laws are concerned, selling e-cigarettes to minors is regarded as illegal in the country. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued orders to the vaping device makers for the submission of e-cigarette ingredients list for review.

Matthew Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, noted that based on the available study findings, use of e-cigarette is a serious health concern that demands government action, reported The New York Times.

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