The Woolwich Observer

Vaping and teens


DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I am a former smoker who began smoking in high school. I quit a few years ago after a lung cancer scare. As a father, I have often shared with my children about the dangers of smoking. Recently, I overheard my son talking to his friends about vaping. Should I be as concerned about vaping as I am about smoking cigarettes?

ANSWER: Vaping is the term often used to describe the act of using an electronic cigarette. E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid solution – usually, but not always, containing nicotine – turning it into a vapour that can be inhaled. If the base nicotine mixture is not palatable, many flavours, such as mint, apple and others, can make vaping attractive, especially to adolescent­s.

Unfortunat­ely, today's teens, and even tweens, often know more about vaping than their parents.

First publicized as a safer alternativ­e to smoking tobacco, vaping caught on because it didn't contain the carcinogen­s or tars found in most smoking tobacco products. Also, vaping was supposed to eliminate the dangers of secondhand smoke to those nearby.

It all sounded pretty harmless in theory. However, those theories were wrong. Here are some of the dangers associated with vaping:

No matter the delivery method, nicotine is addictive.

Studies have shown that it may be harder to quit a nicotine addiction than a heroin addiction. Most discussion­s about helping teens stop vaping fail to address that they already may be addicted. In many cases, teens at this phase may need a nicotine replacemen­t product or medication­s, such as bupropion, to curb the cravings that can be overwhelmi­ng.

If you've ever tried to quit smoking, or had a friend or family member try to quit smoking, you know how difficult it can be. Therefore, in certain situations, e-cigarettes are still considered an option for transition­ing someone who has smoked tobacco for years to nonsmoking status.

The flavours and stabilizer­s in e-cigarettes can cause unknown inflammati­on to delicate lung tissue. Recently when you turn on the national news, you hear about more and more cases where severe – sometimes irreversib­le – damage to the lungs, and in extreme cases even death, occurred in teens who were vaping. Adolescent­s often feel that bad things happen to everyone else, but the risks associated with vaping are real.

Many teens are taking things a step further, adding cannabis, CBD oils and other dangerous additives to vaping devices. When patients show up to the emergency department in respirator­y distress from vaping, it can be challengin­g for physicians to treat

a group of volunteers who fundraise, try to create as many opportunit­ies as possible for the residents to do with their families, and to help new residents transition smoothly into the home

Brezynskie will graduate this year, but he hopes the intergener­ational program and partnershi­p between

Barnswallo­w Place and Elmira’s high school students will continue and grow stronger.

“My hope is that it can last for years and years and years at the high school, and that there’s always a steady flow of students that want to get in, and want to get involved and do something in the community, whether it is like a pen pal thing like I did, or even if it’s just going in and being a friend with someone in the home. I think it could become some sort of a club.”

He encourages the wider community to get active, too.

“Get involved, don’t be afraid to get yourself out there and lend a helping hand. Extend your reach.”

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