As the numbers start to rise, the medical community is warning of the harmful effects of vaping, particularly on younger users.
“It really does toxic things to our lungs,” said Dr. Donna Milavetz, Executive Medical Director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah. “This is just the beginning of our scientific journey how detrimental this can be.”
Since 2020 there has been a decrease in vaping, but long-term health impacts for those who do vape – particularly youth – are still unknown.
“It really is quite dangerous, and almost as addicting as heroin and cocaine,” said Milavetz.
Last year in Utah, 10 percent of high school students said they were currently using e-cigarettes or vapes. Nationwide, 11 percent of high school students said they vape, down from 20 percent two years earlier.
“When it tastes like cotton candy, how can kids not want it?” said Milavetz.
When it comes to the dangers of vaping and kids, Milavetz said, “Accessibility and nicotine in the developing brain are particularly dangerous.”
Nicotine can cause a short-term rise in blood pressure, impacting kids’ impulse control and decision-making capabilities, plus the risk of other chemicals and heavy metals found in vaping solutions is cause for concern.
“When you heat them up and when you vaporize them, they can be pretty toxic to the lungs,” said Milavetz.
Research also links vaping to irreversible lung damage and disease.
Milavetz said, “I think it’s a really important conversation to have with your child.”
She also encourages parents to be good role models. “If you’re smoking right now, quit. Set a quit date and quit. If you’re vaping, set a quit date and quit.”