On Thursday, the US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, voiced his concern about the growing number of youth using e-cigarettes.
“Contradictory to the believe of many,” Murthy stated, “the aerosol that is produced by e-cigarettes is not harmless water vapor, for either the user, or for those who inhale it second hand.”
Murthy notes that nicotine, by any means of delivery, is harmful to developing brains. According to reports given by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes, while 5.3 percent of middle school students also use the device. The same report shows that 76.3 percent of youth who use e-cigarettes also use conventional cigarettes, indicating that e-cigarettes may be a “gateway” to nicotine addiction and usage of conventional cigarettes later in life.
Due to the lack of official research of health effects regarding e-cigarette usage, many people remain unsure of its danger. As Murthy notes, “I have found that confusion about e-cigarettes is widespread.” However, a public service announcement attached to the report affirms that “your kids are not an experiment.”
Reported Dangers of E-Cigarettes
Though the chemical risks of e-cigarettes are under researched, one danger that is very real are the reports of exploding e-cigarettes. The heating coil of many e-cigarettes may overheat, or cause pressure to build inside of the device until it explodes or combusts. This has been precisely the case in may lawsuits throughout the country.
For example, on November 2015, a Colorado man suffered severe burns, cracked teeth, facial fractures and a broken neck after his e-cigarette exploded in his mouth. In yet another case, one man lost sight in his eye and smashed two cheekbones after his e-cigarette exploded and set a fire. There have been dozens of these lawsuits according to the Wall Street Journal, which has cost the industry millions in lawsuits.
Nicotine poisoning is another common risk of e-cigarettes. The oil used to generate the vapor of a e-cigarette contains high concentrations of nicotine, which if ingested or breathed in by children can pose a dangerous situation. Signs of nicotine poisoning are:
- Changes in heart rate
- Changes in blood pressure