Surgeon General calls youth vaping a public health threat

AP file photo

(WFLA) – The U.S. surgeon general is calling e-cigarettes an emerging public health threat to the nation’s youth.

In a report being released Thursday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy acknowledges a need for more research into the health effects of “vaping,” but says e-cigarettes aren’t harmless and too many teens are using them.

Commonly known as e-cigs, vape pens and tank systems, e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, NBC News reports.

It’s no surprise young people are drawn to them. They come in flavors that include strawberry, cherry and vanilla. Ybor City and other popular hot spots are filled with hookah bars, vape cafes and smoke shops, all attracting the younger generation of smokers.

The surgeon general said Thursday e-cigs may be more dangerous than people know.

Because e-cigs are new, there hasn’t been a great deal of research. Kids and parents might not know what impact they have.

That’s why the nation’s top doctor wants everyone to beware. The chemicals inside e-cigarettes can impact developing brains, Murthy said.

“Any tobacco use, including e-cigarettes, is a health threat, particularly to young people,” Murthy said. “The use of products containing nicotine poses dangers to youth, pregnant women and fetuses. The use of products containing nicotine in any form among youth, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe.”

The surgeon general also said the use of these products more than doubled between 2013 and 2014. And as of 2014, more than one-third of young adults have tried e-cigarettes. One suggestion in his report is more regulation.

That idea doesn’t sit well with those who vape.

Earlier this year the FDA cracked down on e-cigarette makers, barring them from selling their products to people under age 18 and requiring them to meet public health standards.

Because it contains fewer of the harmful compounds of regular cigarettes, vaping was first pushed as safer for current smokers. There’s no scientific consensus on the risks or advantages. But federal figures show that last year, 16 percent of high school students reported at least some use of e-cigarettes, even some who’ve never smoked a conventional cigarette.

For more information on the dangers of e-cigs, log onto the U.S. Department of Health’s website.

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