Harrisburg, PA – Responding to a warning from the U.S. Surgeon General that teenage use of e-cigarettes has reached epidemic levels, the Wolf Administration is reminding schools and parents that resources are available to help educate students about the health risks of using the devices.
“E-cigarettes have become a major public health issue, particularly among teens and young adults,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “The flavoring inside of e-cigarettes has been shown to cause cancer and other serious diseases. Normalizing smoking for young adults through e-cigarettes introduces them to a lifetime of addiction.”
E-cigarettes are part of a class of devices known as Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), which include e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, e-cigars, e-pipes and vape pens. These devices are, as the name indicates, still nicotine delivery products. E-cigarettes are not an FDA-approved aid to quit smoking.
“Teenagers think e-cigarettes are safe, but we urge them to educate themselves about the dangers of nicotine use,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “A variety of resources are available online and in schools to help students understand the impacts on their health and to assist parents with discussing this topic with their children.”
According to the 2015 Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS), more teens used e-cigarettes in Pennsylvania in 2015 than used cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Even more alarming is that one in every four high school seniors in Pennsylvania reports having used an e-cigarette in a 30-day period, which is 10 percent higher than the national average.
According to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics, teens who use e-cigarettes are up to three times more likely to have dangerous chemicals in their systems than teens who do not use, including chemicals known to cause cancer. Teens who use e-cigarettes are also twice as likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes.
It is illegal for teens under the age of 18 to be sold an ENDS.
More information is available on the Department of Health website.
The Department of Health has a number of resources on smoking cessation, including a free quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-855-DEJELO-YA in Spanish).