April 18, 2019

Many young adults today think that e-cigarettes are healthier because they only have water and flavoring, but that’s not true.

From 2017 to 2018, e-cigarette use radically increased by 48 percent for middle school students and 78 percent among high school students, causing the U.S. Surgeon General to declare e-cigarette use a national epidemic among our youth.

What people fail to understand is that most e-cigarettes (also called vapes or JUULs) do in fact contain nicotine — the addictive substance found in regular cigarettes. In some cases, there is even more nicotine in one e-cigarette pod than an entire pack of regular cigarettes. And, as we have learned from decades of research on nicotine, it’s addictive.

With young teens today picking up on this trend, thinking it’s healthier than regular cigarettes, it is important to know that the effects are similar. Most importantly, teens are still in a critical developmental stage of their life, so picking up this addictive habit can be detrimental to their health. They put their lungs at-risk, and more importantly, their brain. The human brain actually develops until about age 25.

There is no doubt that the nicotine found in e-cigarettes is affecting today’s young minds and will have further effects down the road. Our years of progress on tobacco use has been reversed and is more rampant today than ever before.

Cook County Health providers urge parents to speak with your teens about e-cigarettes. If you have a friend or other family members who use e-cigarettes, let them know about the harmful, lasting effects of e-cigarette use. Your health is your wealth, as the old saying goes.