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Vape warning: Danger to teens of e-cigs unknown

The danger of combustible cigarettes are well-documented, but

The danger of combustible cigarettes are well-documented, but the danger of vaping to young users is unknown. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

The U.S. surgeon general says e-cigarettes are a public health threat to youth. In a new report, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy lists the dangers of e-cigarettes, and outlines strategies to help combat the problem of tobacco use among the nation’s youth.

Murthy says tobacco use is not safe in any form, including e-cigarettes. He adds that the rate of vaping among youth has increased at an alarming rate, and e-cigarettes may introduce young people to other tobacco products, possibly making them lifetime tobacco users.

Mayo Clinic’s Dr. J. Taylor Hays agrees with the surgeon general’s report. He says, “E-cigarette use among high school students has dramatically increased. Since we started tracking use in 2011, the percent of students who have used e-cigarettes in the past month has increased almost fourfold. This is a dangerous trend, because we do not know the long-term health risks of e-cigarette use, and do not understand the implications that increased youth uptake of e-cigarettes will have on public health. The U.S. Surgeon General correctly points out that ‘Your kids are not an experiment.’ ”

Hays adds, “While there is little doubt that, for adults who smoke, the use of e-cigarettes is less harmful than continuing to smoke combustible tobacco cigarettes, the danger for youth is entirely unknown.”

Strategies include requiring photo ID for all tobacco products and creating media campaigns.

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