Youth e-Cigarette use is an emerging public health threat.

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Among Minnesota high school students, e-cigarette use is now double conventional cigarette use.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale, or vape, aerosolized liquid (e-juice). E-cigarettes, “vapes”, vape or hookah pens, e-pipes, and other vaping products recently surpassed conventional cigarettes as the most commonly used tobacco product among youth so it is critical that public health officials and the general public understand the potential risks of using them.

Among Minnesota high school students, e-cigarette use is now double the conventional cigarette use. According to the 2017 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey the 19.2% have used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. 

The rapid uptake of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices has quickly reversed a long-term trend of declining teen tobacco use in Minnesota, according to new results from the Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey. The new data show one in five high school students use e-cigarettes, a nearly 50 percent increase since the data were last collected in 2014. At the same time, youth cigarette smoking has reached an all-time low. Less than 10 percent of high school students now smoke cigarettes – a 70 percent drop since 2000.

E-cigarettes pose a serious health risk.

Nearly all e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which can harm brain development as teens grow. No amount of nicotine is safe for youth. Adolescence is a critical window for brain growth and development, when the brain is still “under construction”; there could be negative implications for learning, memory, and attention. Evidence also suggests that nicotine primes the adolescent brain for addiction, increasing the risk of future addictions not only to tobacco, but other substances like illicit drugs.

Recent evidence also suggests that, compared to youth who have never used them, youth who have tried e-cigarettes are twice as likely to start smoking in the future.

E-cigarettes attract kids despite the dangers.

  • E-cigarettes are available in fruit and candy flavors; flavored tobacco products appeal to youth.
  • A majority of Minnesota high school students (57.4%) have seen ads for e-cigarettes on TV in the past 30 days.
  • E-cigarettes are available for purchase online.

Risks Associated with e-Cigarette use. 

Brain development in adolescence is just one of the many risks associated with any type of tobacco, nicotine or other drug use. The part of the brain that is responsible for decision making and impulse control is not yet fully developed during adolescence. Young people are more likely to take risks with their health and safety, including use of nicotine and other drugs. 

Addiction. Addiction is a form of learning, adolescents can get addicted more easily than adults. The nicotine in e-cigarettes and other tobacco products can also prime the adolescent brain for addiction to other drugs. 

Aerosol and Other Risk. The aerosol from e-cigarettes is NOT harmless. It contains harmful and potentially harmful chemicals, including nicotine; ultra-fine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, flavoring which use diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease; volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which is found in car exhaust; heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead. Scientists are still working to understand more fully the health effects and harmful doses of e-cigarette contents when they are heated and turned into an aerosol, both for active users who inhale from a device and for those who are exposed to the aerosol secondhand. 

The Bottom Line

Scientists are still learning more about how e-cigarettes affect health. However, there is already enough evidence to justify efforts to prevent e-cigarette use by young people.

Because most tobacco use starts during adolescence, actions to protect our nation’s young people from a lifetime of nicotine addiction are critical.

Working together, we can keep America’s youth and young adults safe from the dangers associated with tobacco use and nicotine addiction.

Talk with Young People

You can talk to your children or other young people you know about the dangers of e-cigarettes. Tell them about the harm that nicotine in any form can do to their growing brain. Let them know that you have a strong stance against them using any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, now or in the future. Even if you have used tobacco yourself, they will listen if you discuss your struggles with nicotine addiction.

Parent Tip Sheet

Share the Facts


Source: Know the Risk

              Minnesota Department of Health


Posted in News/Announcements.