Utilizing an ounce of prevention

Some things are just plain harmful, even if we don’t want to admit it. Denial doesn’t help protect us from those things that can hurt us but knowledge and wisdom can.

The U.S. Surgeon General has issued a report specifically about e-cigarettes and urged that pregnant women and teens should not use them because there are still too many unknowns. The rise in lung injury and death being associated with the use of “vapes” indicates that they are just not worth the risks. You can read the full report at www.e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov. The Surgeon General’s website and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website provides everything known about the practice of vaping and the dangers involved. Go there to get the facts. These agencies are in place to protect your safety and well being.

Have you noticed the signs at convenience stores and tobacco shops that advertise that they sell JUUL? JUUL, advises the CDC, contains a high level of nicotine. A single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. Some of them look like a flash drive for the computer and they are reportedly used by students in classrooms and bathrooms at school. In 2011, 1 percent of girls and 2 percent of boys used vapes. By 2018, 19 percent of girls and 23 percent of boys reported using them. Adolescents believe that vapes are less harmful than regular tobacco.

Less harmful? Nicotine can harm brains as they develop (to about age 25) and may alter brain function for life, says the Surgeon General. Use can affect respiratory health, affect the part of the brain that does the decision-making and impulse control permanently, and harm the ability to control attention and learning. Nicotine also can lead to addiction or other drugs, like cocaine, in young people. Also, there is some evidence that alcohol use and marijuana use may also be linked to vape use.

These electronic devices heat a liquid that produces an aerosol or mix of small particles in the air and is inhaled into the lungs. The risk is not for only the person who uses them. Those who are nearby can be harmed as well when they inhale what the user exhales. Just because it smells or tastes good doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

E-cigarettes are a $2.5 billion business in the U.S., with marketing and advertising aimed at youth to draw them in and make them lifetime customers, these agencies advise. Think about this for a minute. Some e-cigarette liquids contain not just nicotine, but also benzene (found in car exhaust), heavy metals (like nickel, tin and lead). And there have been fires and explosions that have caused injuries to the users.

“Each time a new memory is created or a new skill is learned, stronger connections – or synapses – are built between brain cells. Young people’s brains build synapses faster than adult brains. Nicotine changes the way these synapses are formed,” advises the CDC. Further, children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing or absorbing e-cigarette liquid through their skin or eyes.

For more information about e-cigarettes visit the Surgeon General’s website at the link provided at the beginning of this article. The Surgeon General’s report is found under the “Resources” tab. You can also Google “Quick Facts on Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults” at the CDC website.

Knowledge is the key.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.