If you’re the parent of a teenager, you’ve maybe seen or heard about two new nicotine products that are exploding in popularity with the preteen and teenage age groups that greatly concern us at Westchester Health: JUUL and PHIX. These products are very dangerous for your teen’s health and well-being. To learn more, we recommend a very informative blog (excerpted here) by Mason Gomberg, MD, a pediatrician with our Westchester Health Pediatrics group. There is also helpful information and advice specifically for teens on the WHP website which you can access here.
Popular with teens, highly damaging to their health
Both JUUL and PHIX contain nicotine liquid which is vaporized and inhaled. The nicotine is replenished through nicotine “pods” and the devices can be recharged through a USB port. These products are easy to obtain and can be purchased through various stores or online.
Why are they dangerous? Nicotine is delivered via these devices into the lungs, which is very damaging to developing brains. They also contain other inert ingredients that are being inhaled that may include cancer-causing agents, respiratory irritants and heavy metals which are harmful to the body.
Nicotine exposure in developing brains can lead to inattention, reduction of impulse control, mood disorders and cognitive deficits. At Westchester Health, we believe that we all need to take a proactive approach and discuss the dangers of these products with our children. Hopefully, we can persuade them not to start vaping, or if they already do, help them stop.
What exactly is in an e-cigarette?
- Nicotine. No matter what tobacco and e-cigarette manufacturers might report, nicotine is a very harmful, very dangerous drug. It affects the brain, nervous system and heart. The larger the dose of nicotine, the more a person’s blood pressure and heart rate go up, which can cause an abnormal heart rate (arrhythmia). In rare cases, especially when large doses of nicotine are involved, arrhythmias can cause heart failure and death.
- Propylene glycol, the chemical that allows the nicotine to be vaped or inhaled, can cause lung and eye irritation. It is not clear what long-term effects propylene glycol has on the lungs.
- Aluminum can cause pneumonia.
- Cadmium, which is also in batteries, causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Silver causes breathing problems, lung and throat irritation, and stomach pain.
- Lead when inhaled can result in nerve damage and digestive issues.
- Diacetyl, also found in butter-flavored microwave popcorn, when inhaled can cause scarring of the lungs. “Popcorn lung” is the scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs and will result in wheezing, coughing and/or shortness of breath.
- Benzoic acid is a naturally occurring acid found in the tobacco plant. When inhaled, it can cause irritation to the nose, throat and lungs, which like diacetyl, may cause coughing, wheezing and/or shortness of breath.
To learn more
For more information on the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes, you might find these articles helpful:
- Concerns over health effects of vaping – and rising use among teens
- Kids Who Vape Face Toxin Dangers, Study Finds
- The Dangers of Vaping & E-Cigs
- Concerns explode over new health risks of vaping
- 10 SHOCKING HEALTH RISKS OF VAPING AND E-CIGARETTES
- The Real Dangers and Health Risks of Vaping
- Everything You Need To Know About The JUUL, Including The Health Effects
- An e-cigarette with twice the nicotine of comparable devices is taking over high schools — and scientists are sounding the alarm
Important information and resources:
- Stop Smoking/American Lung Association
- Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke (CDC)
- Health Effects Of Secondhand Smoke On Children
Concerned that your teen is smoking or vaping or might start soon? Come see us.
If you’re worried that your child is smoking or vaping, either tobacco cigarettes or e-cigarettes, or might start, please come in and see one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. Together, we’ll talk it out with you and your child, and together figure out the best way forward. If needed, we’ll also help your child find the right support network to stop smoking. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
To read Dr. Gomberg’s blog in full, click here.