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Smoke and Minors: The Effects of Underage Vaping

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Across the UK, signs of teenagers vaping have become commonplace, with the products’ bright packaging and fruity flavours appealing to every age group, despite their age restrictions.

With news on the effects of vaping in adults indicating a sharp rise in blood pressure afterwards, it is worrying to consider the effects that it could be having on children.

We asked Dr Brian Fisher, clinical director at wellness app Evergreen Life, about the effects these vaping products could be having on the health of young people:

“When you have a study indicating that vaping brings an increased risk of cardiovascular issues in adults, you have to wonder what the effects of prolonged vaping will be on the teenagers of today. Although these BP changes seem transitory, prolonged high blood pressure increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke, eye and kidney problems, and heart failure, all the same risks associated with smoking.”

“Blood pressure isn’t the only aspect of a young person’s health affected by vaping- unsurprisingly, there’s an effect on their respiratory system, too. Young people who vape are twice as likely to suffer from a chronic cough compared to their non-vaping peers, and vaping can also reduce the function of the lungs overall. When you have evidence like this, it’s clear that those who believe vaping is just ‘water vapour’ are sorely mistaken.”

“When it comes to oral health, the use of e-cigarettes is massively linked to cases of gum disease, as well as many regular users reporting issues with their oral health. When so many vape flavours are centred around fruity tangs and candy, I would expect more trips to the dentist to be associated with vaping products rather than too many sweets.”

“This is all without mentioning the most worrying aspect of the trend in underage vaping – nicotine. When adolescents are already more at risk of nicotine addiction than adults, and considering that disposable vapes usually contain the maximum amount of nicotine allowed in them of 20mg/ml (around 40 cigarettes worth), the implications are extremely worrying.”

“This tool designed to stop smoking may even promote it, with one study suggesting that young people using e-cigarettes were more than three times more likely to become cigarette smokers than those who do not vape.”

Chronic nicotine exposure also seems to have a detrimental effect on brain development, which can lead to much higher risks of depression and suicidal thoughts.”

“While the research into the effects of vaping on those under 18 is still in its infancy, the studies and information available point to many potential health risks. We need to educate both ourselves and young people on their side effects. They are not a completely safe alternative’ to smoking.”

“However, they are safer than smoking cigarettes and can still help many people of all ages to quit cigarettes – the best thing for smokers to do to protect their health.”

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