Top US doctor urges 'aggressive' steps against e-cigarettes

Faith Castro
December 21, 2018

In an advisory December 18, Surgeon General Jerome Adams said parents, teachers, health professionals, and government officials must take "aggressive steps" to keep children from using e-cigarettes.

The surgeon general's advisory called on parents and teachers to educate themselves about the variety of e-cigarettes and to talk with children about their dangers.

The Surgeon General's Office advises parents whose kids ask about the relative hazards of vaping and smoking to dodge the question.

"We have never seen use of any substance by America's young people rise this rapidly", Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at the briefing. Vaping among middle school-age children also increased by almost 50 percent. The FDA has tried to enlist the cooperation of e-cigarette companies, but has threatened an outright ban if the efforts don't work.

The surgeon general's advisory notes that each Juul cartridge, or pod, contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine which both the Minnesota Department of Health and CDC report harms brain development, meaning learning, memory and attention capabilities can be adversely affected.

E-cigarettes and other vaping devices have been sold in the USA since 2007, growing into a $6.6 billion business.

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The Food and Drug Administration has announced a series of moves, including proposals that would keep most flavored vape products out of reach for teenagers and efforts to limit online sales.

Adams has no regulatory powers.

"We issue surgeon general advisories at times when there's a significant public health threat and when we need an all-hands-on-deck response to that threat", he said. Adams has sent out a public warning about the risks of vaping. "The brain actually isn't done developing until the early to even mid-20s so even through age 25 our brain is still developing and any nicotine use can affect the brain development", said Thoman. Until Holbrook restricted the sale of flavored tobacco and nicotine products to adult-only retailers, she said, a convenience store across the street from her school sold e-cigarettes.

Doctors at the MD Anderson Cancer Center applauded Adams' statement.

One college is already acting.

"The recent surge in e-cigarette use among youth, which has been fueled by new types of e-cigarettes that have recently entered the market, is a cause for great concern", he said.

Tobacco use has plummeted in the USA but still remains the No. 1 cause of preventable deaths, mostly from heart disease, cancer and lung disease.

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