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Much of e-cigarette buzz is based on misinformation

April 28, 2015

Youth use increasing dramatically

TACOMA, Wash. – Although the popularity of e-cigarettes continues to grow, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department encourages consumers to proceed with caution. Much about the relatively new technology remains untested, unproven and unregulated — and use by youth under 18 is rising sharply.

Use of e-cigarettes, or “vaping,” is touted as a way to avoid the negative health effects of smoking regular cigarettes. E-cigarettes and their paraphernalia are unregulated, meaning no standards exist for labeling or what they contain, which can include potentially toxic chemicals.

“The amount of misinformation about e-cigarettes is troubling, but we also are extremely concerned about the sharp rise in e-cigarette use among youth,” said Director of Health Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH.

According to Washington’s 2014 Healthy Youth Survey, e-cigarette use is now at a rate similar to marijuana use among Pierce County 10th graders. One in five is using these substances — double the number who smoke cigarettes.

Those under 18 are prohibited from purchasing e-cigarette products. But enforcement of this regulation is not funded in Pierce County, and many stores are selling these products regardless of a buyer’s age. Nicotine is harmful to youth because it is addictive and impacts normal brain development. E-cigarette juices come in a variety of flavors such as chocolate and cotton candy that are meant to appeal to kids.

“These days, stores on every street corner are advertising and selling e-cigarettes and e-juice,” said Chen. “The stores and manufacturers want youth to think that these products are cool and safe. They are not.”

“Nicotine is addictive, and e-cigarettes are nicotine-delivery vehicles,” he added. “People who start using nicotine products when they are young are likely to become addicted for life, and tobacco companies are cultivating a sustainable market for their product,” said Chen.

For accurate, up-to-date information about e-cigarettes, see www.tpchd.org/ecigarettes.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the health of the communities of Pierce County. As part of its mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.

Contact: Edie Jeffers, Communications Manager (253) 798-2853, (253) 405-6822 (cell/text), ejeffers@tpchd.org

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