E-cigarettes remain a problem

Posted on: Nov 27, 2018

Representatives from Wright County Public Health spoke to students in Delano High School health classes about e-cigarettes and “vaping” in October.

Anna Bohanan said the statewide rate of high school students using tobacco products over the last 30 days is about 19 percent, and Delano is just a notch higher at 20 percent.

“Teen e-cigarette use is higher than it’s ever been, and teen tobacco use in general is at its highest in 18 years,” Bohanan said. “We haven’t seen use this high since 2000. So we’ve done all this work to lower it, and now it’s going back up again.”

E-cigarettes have become popular with young people because there is a perception that they are harmless. That’s far from the truth, however. Bohanan said there can be adverse effects to a user’s brain, heart and lungs.

“Starting with nicotine at a young age primes your brain for more addictive habits in the long run,” said Bohanan, adding that a progression to conventional smoking, marijuana and other drugs is not uncommon. “Getting addicted to nicotine can really set you on a bumpy road for the future.” 

Aside from nicotine, Bohanan said there are a variety of chemicals used in e-cigarettes that are harmful, including the same compounds found in antifreeze and paint lacquers. Metals for the heating element also tend to include lead.

“Lead can have a huge impact on your brain development – in your concentration, performance in school and at your job, and create other developmental issues,” said Bohanan.

Other problems that can result include chronic bronchitis and asthma, as well as emphysema. Social pressure around e-cigarette usage can also cause anxiety and depression. 

“There are physical effects to those things too, so it is kind of a vicious circle,” said Bohanan.

Jacob Anson of Wright County Public Health said tobacco companies are targeting young people, often through social media, in order to secure lifelong customers.

“They advertise toward teenagers. They know you’re more likely to be on your devices and they know what apps you use, so that’s their way of targeting you,” he told students. “If they can get you to start before 21, you’re more likely to use nicotine forever.”

After their presentation, health instructor Jamie Longstreet told his group of seventh-graders that it was important they know the facts early.

“If you guys waited to hear this information until ninth grade, I almost feel like that might be too late. This awareness is good,” he said. “You know where to go to help. You know who to talk to. Those are the important things. You guys all know the dangers. These are a gateway to a lot of other things. Now it’s your job to make the right choice.” 

Find additional resources, including talking points with adolescents, reports on health impacts, and a Surgeon General report on health risks at www.health.state.mn.us/ecigarettes.

Post Categories: High School, Intermediate School