Surgeon General Declares E-Cig Use Among Teens An "Epidemic"


U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Tuesday issued a rare advisory, calling for aggressive steps against e-cigarette use among teens, which he said has become an "epidemic".

"In the data sets we use, we have never seen use of any substance by America's young people rise as rapidly as e-cigarette use is rising", said Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. "Nicotine exposure during adolescence and young adulthood can cause addiction and harm the developing brain".

"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.

Parents, teachers and health professionals should educate themselves about e-cigarettes, explain the risks to children, and be a role model by not using tobacco products, Adams said.

"There is an epidemic of use of e-cigarettes going - a 78 percent increase in high schoolers using these products in just the past year".

In all, more than 3.6 million USA youth, including one in 20 middle school students, use e-cigarettes.

Teen may not realize that e-cigarettes deliver nicotine, sometimes an extremely hefty dose.

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"We know that the notion that e-cigarette aerosol is harmless water vapour - something even my 14-year-old son thought was true - is a myth", Adams said.

Public health officials are concerned that young people who get hooked on nicotine from their use of e-cigarettes will eventually begin smoking.

Adams singled out Silicon Valley startup Juul. And a typical JUUL cartridge, or "pod", contains about as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes, his office stated. Additionally, Adams states that Juul's liquid nicotine mixture is specially formulated to give a smoother, more potent nicotine buzz.

"JUUL Labs shares a common goal with the Surgeon General and other federal health regulators - preventing youth from initiating on nicotine", according to a statement from Victoria Davis, a Juul spokesperson.

The Food and Drug Administration has announced a series of moves, including proposals that would keep most flavored vape products out of reach for teenagers and efforts to limit online sales.

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

This story was reported by The Associated Press.