Surgeon general declares 'epidemic' of risky youth e-cigarette, vaping use


"These products also use nicotine salts, which allow particularly high levels of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation than the free-base nicotine that has traditionally been used in tobacco products, including e-cigarettes", according to the surgeon general.

Tuesday, U.S. Surgeon General Vice Adm. Jerome M. Adams released an advisory, calling teen vaping an epidemic.

E-cigarettes are handheld devices that induce the feeling of smoking by delivering nicotine, flavorings and other additives to the user through an inhaled aerosol.

The last advisory, in April, called for more people to carry the overdose antidote naloxone as the nation grapples with a record number of opioid overdoses.

The advisory, just the second Adams has issued since taking the job 16 months ago, comes the day after a report concluded 21% of high school seniors vaped nicotine this year, versus just 11% last year.

Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pointed to recent data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse that showed the percentage of high school seniors who used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days almost doubled to 20.9 percent from previous year.

The devices first came onto the United States market around 2007. "We are committed to preventing youth access of JUUL products". They have been pitched to adult smokers as a less-harmful alternative to cigarettes, though there's been little research on the long-term health effects or on whether they help people quit.

Another selling point of e-cigarettes is that they can be used in many settings where smoking is prohibited. "But we can not allow e-cigarettes to become an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for younger Americans".

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"This is of particular concern for young people, because it could make it easier for them to initiate the use of nicotine through these products and also could make it easier to progress to regular e-cigarette use and nicotine dependence", the office added. "For the first time in over forty years, we've seen a doubling of the rate of use of a substance in just over a year". "This is an unprecedented challenge".

The same can be said of Adams' fearmongering about the dangers that e-cigarettes pose to vapers.

"We need to protect our kids from all tobacco products, including all shapes and sizes of e-cigarettes", Adams said.

E-cigarettes and other vaping devices have been sold in the U.S. since 2007, growing into a $6.6 billion business.

"Less harm does not mean harmless".

Adams recommends parents, teachers and health professionals learn about e-cigarettes, talk to children about the risks and set an example by not using tobacco products.

The surgeon general urged parents, doctors and educators to take a series of steps, including banning indoor vaping, and talking to kids about the dangers of e-cigarettes, mentioning by name the USB drive-shaped products made by JUUL.