Teen e-cigarette use; FDA declares epidemic


Health and education officials across the country are raising alarms over wide underage use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The devices heat liquid into an inhalable vapor that’s sold in sugary flavors like mango and mint — and often with the addictive drug nicotine. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, September 26, 2018:

The FDA put the vaping industry on notice in September, issuing warning letters and fines to five major manufacturers and more than 1,300 retailers who have illegally sold e-cigarette products to minors. Their actions are in response to what they say is an epidemic among youth.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., says they are seeing clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and a strategy to stem this “clear and present danger” starts with cracking down on retail sales of e-cigarettes to minors.

There are different names for vapes or e-cigarettes, but products do this same thing; turning a liquid chemical mixture of flavoring and nicotine into an aerosol that is inhaled. Vaping and e-cigarettes use started as an alternative to cigarette smoking to help people kick that habit.

Cigarette smoke contains around 7,000 measurable chemicals, many of which are known carcinogens. E-cigarette aerosols measure only 10 to 15. However, there are many unknown risks because there have been no long-term studies.

The American Lung Association expressed concern about the possible health consequences of e-cigarettes and lack of government oversite of the products. A statement on their website says that absent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation, there is no way for the public health and medical community or consumers to know what chemicals are contained in e-cigarettes or what the short and long-term health implications might be.

Joining Smart Talk on Wednesday to discuss e-cigarette use among youth and the public is Erika Sward, assistant vice president of national advocacy for the American Lung Association, Jennifer Hobbs Folkenroth, national senior director, tobacco, American Lung Association, and Dr. Jonathan Foulds, professor of public health sciences and psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine. Foulds is also the project leader and principal investigator at Penn State Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science. Also joining the conversation is Dionne Baylor, supervisor and prevention specialist with Dauphin County Department of Drug & Alcohol Services.

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Dionne Baylor, Jennifer Hobbs Folkenroth and Dr. Jonathan Foulds