PAGS is committed to continuously find ways to keep current on medical issues and educate our clinical staff on changing social trends that affect our patients and community. According to the Surgeon General, our youth are in the middle of a vaping epidemic.
Research indicates that most of us are aware of the risks of smoking cigarettes but we don’t perceive the same dangers with e-cigarettes. No matter how it's delivered, nicotine is addictive and harmful for youth and young adults. Children with parents who smoke or vape more likely to smoke or vape.
Today we were fortunate to meet with local health department officials about how vaping and addiction are affecting the youth in our communities.
- Teresa Kirsch, RN, BSN Public Health Nurse, (City of Beverly Health Department)
- Amy Epstein, Regional Substance Misuse Prevention Director (City of Gloucester Health Department)
- Kelley Hiland, RN, BSN, Public Health Nurse (City of Gloucester Health Department)
Educate our staff and providers on the vaping epidemic affecting our community
Focus Points: The importance of early intervention relating to addiction, specifically vaping
- It is imperative that we share accurate information about the seriousness of this epidemic. We are committed to primary prevention and raising awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping with our patientsby the age of 11-year old.
- Provide our patients with resources
- Early intervention tools
- Preventative tips
- Smoking cessation strategies
E-cigarettes are battery powered and deliver nicotine through a liquid (called e-juice), which turns into a vapor when using the device. The liquid comes in flavors, such as mint, fruit, and bubble gum, which appeal to kids. Youth often believe that the liquid used in vaping only contains water and flavoring and are unaware that it contains nicotine. Therefore, they may think vaping is less dangerous than cigarettes. The amount of nicotine in the liquid can be the same or even more than the amount found in cigarettes. E-cigarettes contain harmful ingredients, including:
Signs That Your Teen May Be Vaping:
- Ultra fine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
- Flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease
- Volatile organic compounds
- Heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead
- Devices that claim no nicotine often test positive for nicotine
- Increased thirst. Vaping is hydroscopic, meaning the process of vaping removes hydration from skin of the mouth and throat. This leaves users with a dry, flat palate. As a natural consequence, the body craves liquids to combat dehydration. If you see your child heavily increasing their liquid consumption (and also peeing more), they may be vaping.
- Desire for flavor. Moisture is key to enjoying the flavor of foods. When the mouth is dried out, you lose flavor perception. So, with routine vaping, food can become less flavorful. This even has a name: “vaper's tongue.” If your teen is reaching for the salt or enjoying unusually spicy foods, this may be a clue.
- Nosebleeds. Just like vaping dries the mouth, it dries the skin of the nose as well. When the nose gets dry, it can bleed.
- Acne.Vaping can affect the surrounding skin. If your teen is having bad breakouts on otherwise controlled skin, this may be a clue.
- Cutting back on caffeine.Vaping plus caffeine can cause anxiety and severe mood swings. Most users will decrease their caffeine intake to avoid these side effects.
- Pneumonia. Research suggests that outside of the problems with nicotine exposure, there are nanoparticles present in e-cig vapor that cause inflammation in the lungs. When lungs get inflamed, it can lead to pockets of bacterial infection and cause pneumonia.
- Finding unfamiliar USB drives, battery chargers or spare parts. E-cig devices do have parts and cartridges that need to be exchanged and replaced. Commonly, these parts are spare wires, cotton balls or small containers (“pods”) that contain e-juice. If your teen is carrying an unfamiliar tech-looking device, or if there are interesting items in their trash bin, you should ask.