Thursday, 17 January, 2019

U.S. surgeon general warns of teenage risks from e-cigarettes

Significant increase in e-cig use among youth prompts strong warning from US surgeon general US surgeon general urges crackdown on e-cigarettes 'epidemic' among teenagers
Johnnie Parks | 21 December, 2018, 17:13

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

"We must take aggressive steps to protect our children from these highly potent products that risk exposing a new generation of young people to nicotine", the top U.S. doctor, Jerome Adams, said in a rare public advisory.

"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. The FDA has tried to enlist the cooperation of e-cigarette companies, but has threatened an outright ban if the efforts don't work.

Juul now has a 70 percent share in the cartridge-based e-cigarette market in U.S. An e-cigarette cartridge, or pod, can hold the same amount of nicotine as a regular pack of 20 cigarettes. One major advantage of e-cigarettes, in addition to a dramatic reduction in risk, is that they cost substantially less per dose than the combustible kind. The flavors remain available via age-restricted online sales.

The CDC says that nicotine can harm the brain development of young people. And studies show that teens who vape are more likely to also try burnt cigarettes.

Adams has no regulatory powers.

As e-cigarrettes become more popular among teens and worries rise about a new generation that could become hooked on nicotine, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams laid out strategies to combat the crisis and took aim at Juul, which takes in more than 70 percent of sales. Adams has sent out a public warning about the risks of vaping.

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"E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless", he said, noting that "nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm the developing brain - which continues to develop until about age 25".

The federal government is stepping up its war against e-cigarettes, used by some smokers to wean themselves off cigarettes but feared by public health professionals because they are exposing teens to nicotine.

"There is clear evidence that these products are not safe for our young people", said MD Anderson president Dr. Peter Pisters.

"We included e-cigarettes and vaping devices in the policy because nicotine in any form is highly addictive", said Cerri Banks, dean of students at the college.

The company defended its products, saying it has taken steps to prevent young people from using them.

Maggie Fox is a senior writer for NBC News and TODAY, covering health policy, science, medical treatments and disease.

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