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Estes Park Health Pediatrician Shares the Dangers of Vaping

Patricia Aldridge, MD, is a crusader for stopping vaping in our community and especially with our youth. Here is what she would like to share.

Vaping, or electronic cigarettes have sky-rocketed in popularity. The most concerning population of growing users is adolescents.  Electronic cigarettes are being advertised as safer than traditional cigarettes. Unfortunately the opposite is true, as evidenced by the recent wave of vaping-related illnesses and deaths.  Nicotine and the other toxic chemical in e-cigarettes increase heart rate and blood pressure, damage arteries and harm the developing brain directly. What comes out of the e-cigarette is not actually vapor; it’s an aerosol, like hairspray.  What that is doing when coating the lungs is still unknown.

There are now six reported deaths in Colorado, and 15 nationally from vaping. There are also more than 450 possible cases of lung disease caused by electronic cigarettes.  You may wonder how people die from e-cigarettes. The lung disease described from vaping ranges from an unusual type of pneumonia to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).  In ARDS, the structure of the membranes in the lung break down so that oxygen cannot cross from the lungs into the blood stream. Sometimes even with a breathing machine this process cannot be controlled, treated or reversed resulting in permanent lung damage or death. The cases of lung disease have worsened quickly. If you use e-cigarettes and experience difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chest pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fever please see your healthcare provider, call 970-586-2200 for the Estes Park Health Physician Clinic.

Important truths that you should know:

  • Electronic cigarettes DO contain nicotine. In fact, one manufacturer’s pod contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes. Because the amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes is so high, a person builds a tolerance more quickly and that results in an earlier and stronger addiction.
  • E-cigarettes are NOT recommended as a way to quit smoking. In fact, people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes.
  • Bystanders CAN breathe in the toxic aerosol from an e-cigarette.
  • The amount of nicotine in one pod is enough to kill a toddler if eaten.
  • E-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA, so the products contain varying amounts of nicotine, THC and other toxic chemicals like antifreeze. That means that the pod or liquid used today may have a lot more nicotine than the one used yesterday. Therefore, the effect on the heart and blood vessels will change from use to use.
  • Labeling of all ingredients is not currently required since e-cigarettes are not regulated, so the label may not include all the toxic chemicals that are actually contained. Vaping ingredients bought on the street may have even more drugs and chemicals added.
  • E-cigarettes have different names and difference forms. Some vaping devices are shaped like flash drives, regular cigarettes, ball point pens, personal vaporizer and electronic hookas. The vaping industry is currently delivering on its third-generation of vaping devices.

There is currently no regulation or restriction on vaping advertising, and much of the advertising is targeting our kids. In a survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teens were asked, “What is in their e-cig?” These were the responses: 66.0 percent say just flavoring, 13.7 percent don’t know, 13.2 percent say nicotine, 5.8 percent say marijuana, and 1.3 percent say other.

PLEASE get the facts and talk with your teens and pre-teens about vaping.  If you have any concerns or questions, contact your health provider. If you vape, talk to your health provider about quitting.

For more information:

www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basicinformation/e-cigarettes

www.colorado.gov/pacific/cssrc/vaping-and-e-cigarettes

www.larimer.org/health/chronic-disease-and-injury-prevention/tobacco-prevention