The biggest health argument of 2019 is going to be…


The number of high school seniors who vape rose significantly from 2017 to 2018.

Have electronic cigarettes and vaping devices replaced cigarettes as the public health nuisance of our time?

Have electronic cigarettes and vaping devices replaced cigarettes as the public health nuisance of our time?

New research suggests we’re heading in that direction.

The number of high school seniors who vaped in the past 12 months increased to 37 percent, up from 28 percent in 2017, according to the latest findings of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s 2018 Monitoring the Future report.

Nicotine vaping in particular — the closest analog to smoking a traditional cigarette — also increased from 11 percent to 21 percent year-over-year.


The number of high school seniors who vaped in the past 12 months increased to 37 percent

This isn’t the first report to show a rise in teen vaping.

In November 2018, in response to rising vaping trends, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb directed the agency to restrict — but not outright ban — the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products to help curb the burgeoning epidemic.

“I will not allow a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes,” he wrote in a statement. “We won’t let this pool of kids, a pool of future potential smokers, of future disease and death, to continue to build.”

Flavored products are just one of the many fronts on which the e-cigarette debate is being waged.

Here’s a look at some of the issues and what we can expect in 2019.

Flavors and marketing
Vape cartridge flavorings, which range from mango and sour apple to crème brûlée, are a major sticking point and what many researchers feel is helping drive the surge in teen vape use.

“We know that flavors are very appealing to youth,” Dr. Susan Walley, a professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham’s department of pediatrics and chair of the Section on Tobacco Control for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), told Healthline. “These are all things that were banned from conventional cigarettes because we knew youths were more likely to use them.”

The FDA appears to agree, launching an investigation into the largest e-cigarette manufacturer, Juul, as well as several other e-cigarette companies, specifically looking at the ways in which these companies have targeted younger users.

Dr. Osita Onugha, director of thoracic surgery research at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in California, welcomes the additional FDA scrutiny to help reduce the public health risks of e-cigarettes.

“If the FDA finds that companies are using illegal or illicit chemicals in e-cigarettes, it could potentially lead to a ban on e-cigarettes from certain companies,” Onugha said.

“Overall, this would likely force companies to harbor less toxic chemicals in their e-cigarettes, which would ultimately drive its use. I am optimistic that the more the public pays attention to the chemicals in e-cigarettes, the less likely people would want to place these chemicals in their body,” he said.

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