Regulate e-cigarettes to protect public health
Over the past 16 years, rates of cigarette smoking have dropped dramatically in high school students, going from over 27 percent in 2000 to under 5 percent presently. Unfortunately, something new is on the horizon that is challenging this continued drop in tobacco usage: electronic cigarettes.
Use of e-cigarettes in high school students has doubled from 2014 to 2016, going from just over 10 percent to over 20 percent. This increase is concerning since research shows that use of e-cigarettes is not as safe as generally believed. The cloud of vapor released is not just water vapor; it also includes metals such as tin, lead and zinc. Chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde and toluene can be found in the aerosol produced by these products.
Additionally, research shows that use of e-cigarettes is associated with smoking of traditional cigarettes later in life, making these e-cigarettes a gateway device to smoking in youth. E-cigarettes face little regulation, and there is little protection for consumers regarding what is in the liquids.
Regulation of e-cigarettes is critical, not only to help reduce overall tobacco use but to protect against youth utilization and increased uptake. Parents, family members, teachers and other influential adults also have a responsibility to the youth in their lives to educate themselves about e-cigarettes in order to raise awareness about the risks associated with the use of these products.