The U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek H. Murthy, has released a report outlining the health effects of vaping on young people, and as of right now, he says "that the science tells us the use of nicotine-containing products by youth, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe.” And while this is certainly a damning report, it doesn't necessarily bode well for making vaping less appealing among teens: They do tend to love that whole rebellion thing.
The report (which comes via the Verge), sounds the alarm over e-cigarettes, noting that "E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth in the United States," and that "many of today’s youth who are using e-cigarettes could become tomorrow’s cigarette smokers." It seems that in general, the concern isn't directly with vaping and e-cigarettes — not because they've been deemed safe, but because long-term tests haven't been concluded yet — but rather with e-cigarettes' strong association with smoking regular cigarettes.
The report notes that vaping, which was banned on all U.S. commercial flights earlier this year, “is strongly associated with the use of other tobacco products among youth and young adults, particularly the use of combustible tobacco products." The report also emphasizes that e-cigarettes are being marketed to young people in the same way as traditional tobacco is, noting that "Companies are promoting their products through television and radio advertisements that use celebrities, sexual content, and claims of independence to glamorize these addictive products and make them appealing to young people." In other words, they're making vaping look "cool."
It should be noted that some researchers disagree with the Surgeon General's claim about the link between e-cigarettes and traditional smoking. Michael Siegel, a tobacco-control researcher at Boston University’s School of Public Health, told the Washington Post that “Although electronic cigarette uptake has skyrocketed among youth, cigarette smoking has fallen at historic rates. This would be nearly impossible to explain if electronic cigarettes were causing a substantial number of youths to start smoking." Now if we can just get moms on Facebook to endorse vaping, we'll be all set.
What do you think about e-cigarette usage among the youth? Is it a major societal health concern, or is it a significantly better replacement to traditional smoking? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Images: Flickr / Lindsay Fox