E-cigarettes present a danger to adolescent smokers

Understanding the dangers of e-cigarettes

In the 1970s, Congress banned tobacco ads to protect our impressionable youth from perceiving smoking as socially desirable.

Now, for the first time in decades, advertisements portraying the recreational use of tobacco products are reappearing in popular media. Advertisements present e-cigarettes and vaporizers as safer alternatives to conventional cigarettes. Tobacco control advocates fear this type of exposure will unravel decades of progress in America by renormalizing smoking.

Researchers know little about the long-term effects of e-cigarettes. We do know nicotine, a highly addictive substance, has harmful effects on the adolescent brain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report more young people are trying e-cigarettes, and those who try e-cigarettes are twice as likely to express intent to smoke conventional cigarettes. About three out of four teen smokers will continue to smoke into adulthood.

It’s imperative that parents, mentors, teachers and youth are not misled about dangers of e-cigarettes through advertising.

No regulatory standards

The e-cigarette is classified in the U.S. as a tobacco product, not a tobacco cessation therapy. These devices came on the market in 2007 without any FDA testing and escaped many of the safety controls that protect consumers from potential harm.

FDA investigations are finding inconsistencies with the chemical and nicotine content reported on the product’s label and what is actually in the e-juice. Both devices and e-juice can be customized. Currently, no government standards exist for the production process or ingredients used in e-cigarettes or e-juice.

Exposure to highly addictive nicotine

Tobacco control advocates are especially concerned about the consequences of exposing teens to any amount of nicotine, which is highly addictive. Most people start using tobacco products before age 18. The younger a person is exposed to nicotine, the harder it is to quit later in life. Nicotine exposure can cause lasting harm to the brain and promote sustained use.

In addition to nicotine, e-cigarette users are exposed to 40 to 60 other chemicals found in e-juice. To date, no scientific evidence can fully explain the effects of those chemicals on the body when they are heated and inhaled.

Use for illegal substances

Youth are able to modify e-cigarettes for the consumption of illegal drugs. The devices can mask an illegal substance and facilitate smoking at school.

E-cigarettes are not innocuous devices. The unanswered questions regarding the safety of these devices and the detriments of exposing youth to nicotine aren’t worth the risk of trying them.

Audrey Darville

Audrey Darville

 

 

Audrey Darville is a tobacco treatment specialist at the University of Kentucky and an assistant professor in the UK College of Nursing. 

Learn how to prevent falls at the Falls Fair!

As we get older, falling can cause significant health issues. One out of every three adults age 65 or older falls each year, but fewer than half discuss it with their health care
provider.

Come to the Falls Fair for free information, demonstrations and activities that can help you prevent falls in your home.

UK HealthCare experts will be at the fair offering:Join UK HealthCare for the Falls Fair on Sept. 17
• Free blood pressure checks.
• Free gait/balance testing.
• Free on-site exercise demonstration.
• Free medicine checks.
• Information on how to fall-proof your home.
• On-site community resources.
• Raffle prizes, including items to help fall-proof your home, medication organizers, and UK merchandise such as T-shirts and tumblers.

Parking and transportation
The event is free and open to the public. Attendees can park in the UK HealthCare Garage, 110 Transcript Ave., (directly across S. Limestone from the hospital) and walk across the concourse bridge at Level C of the garage. Participants can also be dropped off in front of Pavilion A, where they will be greeted by volunteers who will take them to the event. Senior citizen centers shuttling participants can also drop off attendees in front of Pavilion A.

Tips to help you beat fall allergies

Who would think that an innocent looking tiny green flower would produce copious amounts of pollen, making us miserable with a stuffy, runny nose, itchy throat and eyes? This member of the daisy family is the culprit for hay fever, also known as ragweed allergies.

Ragweed season rears its ugly head in late summer through November with pollen counts at its highest levels in mid-September in most regions of the U.S. Some people with hay fever also develop asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and trouble breathing.

People whose parents or siblings have allergies to plant pollen are more likely to develop ragweed allergies. Also, people who have allergies to dust, animals, grass or mold tend to develop allergies to pollens, and people who already have an allergy to one type of plant pollen tend to develop allergies to other pollens.

Seasonal allergies develop when the body’s immune system in a genetically susceptible person becomes sensitized and makes allergic antibodies to something in the environment that causes no problem in most people.

Here are some tips to help you limit and avoid contact with ragweed pollen:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Limit time outdoors when ragweed counts are high and avoid mid-day when counts peak.
  • Keep your windows closed and air conditioning on.
  • Wear a dust mask if working outside.
  • Don’t wear outdoor work clothes inside to avoid bringing pollen in the house.
  • Clean and replace HVAC filters often using HEPA filters which remove at least 99 percent of pollen and other particles.
  • Use a clothes dryer rather than outdoor clothes lines.

Climate can affect the level of pollen particles, which in turn influences symptom severity. Ragweed pollen thrives during cool nights and warm days.

There is little we can do about the weather, but preparing for ragweed season can help you avoid some misery. Some allergy medicines should be taken one to two weeks before ragweed season begins. Ask your allergist which medicine(s) you should take, and begin your regimen now.

Your health care provider may also recommend allergy shots. The shots contain a tiny but increasing amount of the allergen you’re sensitive to. Over time, your body becomes used to the allergen and no longer reacts to it. Alternatively, sublingual drops for ragweed are also available, although this treatment will only treat ragweed allergy.

Beth Miller

Dr. Beth Miller

 

 

Dr. Beth Miller is division chief of Allergy and Immunology at the University of Kentucky and director of UK Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Clinics.