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Study Reveals: Young Kids Don’t Know That E-Cigarettes Contain Nicotine

e-cigarettes

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A new study has revealed that teenagers are not aware of the fact that E-cigarettes contain nicotine. Research was first of its kind, in which smokers self-reported the use of tobacco products.

Study included 517 adolescents 12 to 21 years old, completed an anonymous questionnaire regarding tobacco, e-cigarette, and marijuana use and provided a urine sample.

Of all, 2.9% reported using tobacco, 14.3% e-cigarettes, and 11.4% marijuana in the past week.

“All e-cigarette users said that their e-cigarette had no nicotine or that they did not know if it contained nicotine”, report states.

Study was done by group of researchers at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York and Roswell Park Comprehensive Center, Buffalo, New York.

“For years, nicotine and marijuana have been among the most popular drugs used by adolescents. Recently, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have surpassed combusted tobacco in popularity. In this study, many participants were unaware of the nicotine content in their products”, report also stated.

What Is E-cigarette?

E-cigarette is known through different names like “e-hookahs”, “vapes”, “tank systems” and “JUUL”. These products are also knowns as “Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)”. Companies design them in the form of cigarettes, cigars, USB flash drives or pen.

Juul is currently the most popular electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) with a market share of 49.6% as of January 2018 and year-over-year growth of over 700% based on Nielsen market data.

Why Situation Is Alarming?

Juul is a compact closed system device charged via USB and comes with disposable flavored pods each of which contains 0.7mL with 5% nicotine by weight.

Each pod is nearly equivalent to one pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs according to official Juul documentation, which also states that Juul is specifically ‘designed with smokers in mind’ and is ‘for adult smokers seeking a satisfying alternative to cigarettes’.

Thus, consuming one JUUL pod a day is equivalent to finishing a pack of cigarettes in a day.

In 2018, 20.8% of high school students reported use of e-cigarettes in the past 30 days (National Youth Tobacco Survey, USA), an increase of 78% from 11.7% reported in 2017.

National Youth Tobacco Survey, USA, showed that there were alarming increases in current use of any tobacco product among both middle and high school students between 2017 and 2018, primarily because of an increase in e-cigarette use.

“These products are posing threats and challenges to the public health in India also. According to GATS 2 (Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2016-17) there has been reduction in number of tobacco users in India by about 81 lakhs over a period of last 6-7 years. However, the use of e-cigarettes is increasing” said Dr S. K. Arora, Additional Director Health, Govt of Delhi.

Dr. Arora also said, “Young people are not aware of the health hazards of these products. Moreover, these devices entice them. Vape industry design E-cigarettes attractive, cool and hi-tech. E-cigarettes/Vapes are easy to carry because of their deceptive design and look. One can easily hide such pods from its parents and guardians. Vapes come in different flavours & smartly marketed as less harmful than the traditional tobacco products”.

Why Students Are Using E-Cigarettes More?

National Youth Tobacco Survey, USA, 2016 assessed the reasons of using e-cigarettes by youth. Among those who had ever used an e-cigarette, the most commonly selected reasons for use were:

  • Use by “friend or family member” (39.0%)
  • Availability of “flavors such as mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate” (31.0%)
  • The belief that “they are less harmful than other forms of tobacco such as cigarettes” (17.1%)

Challenges To Control E-cigarettes:

E-cigarettes/Vapes/JUUL are new products in the tobacco market. There has not been any study done on e-cigarettes considering their long-term effects so far. The claim made by Vape industry that e-cigarettes are harmless is objectionable in the absence of long-term study conducted over its effects.

The latest generation of e-cigarettes which have the highest nicotine concentrations to date (59 mg/mL) have become the most widely used products among adolescents.

“The main challenges with such devices are unclear long-term health effects & lack of 100% safety. Some of such devices cause nicotine levels in the blood to peak higher than they do with traditional cigarettes” said Dr Arora.

He further added that advocating e-cigarette as cessation device is also unethical as these are not registered as drug under Drugs & Cosmetic Act of India.

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