Myths and Facts About E-Cigarettes
from the American Lung Association
There’s been a significant increase in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use in recent years, particularly among kids and teens, as well as smokers looking for an alternative to traditional cigarettes. But lack of basic consumer protection and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight leaves concerns unanswered about the health and safety of these products. So what do we know? Here’s a look at some common misperceptions about e-cigarettes.
MYTH: E-cigarettes are safe.
FACT: E-cigarettes are unregulated tobacco products.
Nearly 500 brands and 7,700 flavors of e-cigarettes are on the market and none of them have been evaluated by the FDA. We don’t know for sure what’s in them. Studies have found toxic chemicals, including an ingredient used in antifreeze and formaldehyde in e-cigarettes. Because the FDA doesn’t regulate these products, there aren’t requirements around ingredient disclosure, warning labels or youth access restrictions.
MYTH: E-cigarettes don’t have nicotine.
FACT: Almost all e-cigarettes contain nicotine—including many that claim they are nicotine-free.
A 2014 study showed wide-ranging nicotine levels in e-cigarettes and inconsistencies between listed and actual nicotine levels in these products. Nicotine is an addictive substance that can have negative health impacts, including on adolescent brain development. The more nicotine a person uses, the greater the potential for addiction.
MYTH: E-cigarettes can help smokers quit.
FACT: The FDA hasn’t found any e-cigarette to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit.
Instead of quitting, many e-cigarette users are continuing to use e-cigarettes while still using conventional cigarettes. In 2013, 76.8 percent of the people who recently used e-cigarettes also currently smoked conventional cigarettes. The U.S. Surgeon General has found that even smoking a few cigarettes a day is dangerous to your health.
When smokers are ready to quit, they should talk with their doctors about using one of the seven FDA-approved medications proven to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit. They can also contact the American Lung Association to find a program that is right for them.
MYTH: E-cigarettes aren’t marketed to kids.
FACT: E-cigarette use among middle and high school students tripled from 2011 to 2013.
With aggressive industry tactics such as cartoon characters and candy flavors including bubble gum, fruit loops, chocolate and strawberry, it’s no surprise studies show a dramatic increase in kids using e-cigarettes. For the first time ever, teens are smoking e-cigarettes more than traditional cigarettes.
MYTH: There’s no secondhand emissions from e-cigarettes.
FACT: E-cigarettes expose others to secondhand emissions.
The aerosol (vapor) emitted by e-cigarettes and exhaled by users contains carcinogens, such as formaldehyde, according to early studies. Little is known about these emissions or the potential harm they can cause.
Is Your Teen Using? Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse
From Partnership for Drug Free Kids
There’s no easy way to figure out if your teen is using drugs or alcohol. As you’ll see, many of the signs and symptoms of teen substance abuse listed below are also, at times, typical adolescent behavior. Many are also symptoms of mental health issues, including depression or anxiety disorders.
If you’ve noticed any of the changes related to substance abuse listed below, don’t be afraid to come right out and ask your teen direct questions like “Have you been offered drugs?” If yes, “What did you do?” or “Have you been drinking or using drugs?” While no parent wants to hear a “yes” response to these questions, be prepared for it. Decide, in advance, how you’ll respond to a “yes”. Make sure you reassure your child that you’re looking out for him or her, and that you only want the best for his or her future.
Of course, not all teens are going to fess up to drug or alcohol use, and a “no” could also mean your child is in need of help for mental health issues. That’s why experts strongly recommend that you consider getting a professional assessment of your child with a pediatrician or child psychologist to find out what’s going on. In the case of teen substance abuse, don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution. Teaming up with professionals to help your teen is the best way to make sure he or she has a healthy future.
- Messy, shows lack of caring for appearance
- Poor hygiene
- Red, flushed cheeks or face
- Track marks on arms or legs (or long sleeves in warm weather to hide marks)
- Burns or soot on fingers or lips (from “joints” or “roaches” burning down)
Personal Habits or Actions
- Clenching teeth
- Smell of smoke or other unusual smells on breath or on clothes
- Chewing gum or mints to cover up breath
- Heavy use of over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening, nasal irritation, or bad breath
- Frequently breaks curfew
- Cash flow problems
- Reckless driving, car accidents, or unexplained dents in the car
- Avoiding eye contact
- Locked doors
- Going out every night
- Secretive phone calls
- “Munchies” or sudden appetite
Behavioral Issues Associated with Teen Substance Abuse
- Change in relationships with family members or friends
- Loss of inhibitions
- Mood changes or emotional instability
- Loud, obnoxious behavior
- Laughing at nothing
- Unusually clumsy, stumbling, lack of coordination, poor balance
- Sullen, withdrawn, depressed
- Unusually tired
- Silent, uncommunicative
- Hostility, anger, uncooperative behavior
- Deceitful or secretive
- Makes endless excuses
- Decreased Motivation
- Lethargic movement
- Unable to speak intelligibly, slurred speech, or rapid-fire speech
- Inability to focus
- Unusually elated
- Periods of sleeplessness or high energy, followed by long periods of “catch up” sleep
- Disappearances for long periods of time
School- or Work-Related Issues
- Truancy or loss of interest in schoolwork
- Loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, or sports
- Failure to fulfill responsibilities at school or work
- Complaints from teachers or co-workers
- Reports of intoxication at school or work
Health Issues Related to Teen Substance Abuse
- Runny nose, not caused by allergies or a cold
- Frequent sickness
- Sores, spots around mouth
- Queasy, nauseous
- Wetting lips or excessive thirst (known as “cotton mouth”)
- Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
- Skin abrasions/bruises
- Accidents or injuries
Home- or Car-Related
- Disappearance of prescription of over-the-counter pills
- Missing alcohol or cigarettes
- Disappearance of money or valuables
- Smell in the car or bottles, pipes, or bongs on floor or in glove box
- Appearance of unusual containers or wrappers, or seeds left on surfaces used to clean marijuana, like Frisbees,
- Appearance of unusual drug apparatuses, including pipes, rolling papers, small medicine bottles, eye drops, butane lighters, or makeshift smoking devices, like bongs made out of toilet paper rolls and aluminum foil
- Hidden stashes of alcohol
Do you have a specific question about your child’s alcohol or other drug use?
Talk to your child’s school counselor, pediatrician, or a child psychologist. Linn County residents can call Linn County Alcohol and Drug Program at 541-967-3819.