Caldwell outlines dangers of vaping

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Carmen Caldwell from the Middle Georgia Alcohol & Substance Abuse Prevention Project presented the Spalding Collaborative with information about the dangers of vaping at its last meeting. Caldwell said the use of e-cigarettes, which is also called vaping, is an epidemic, and many who use e-cigarettes are unaware of the risks associated with their use.

“When we hear vapor, we think steam, but it’s really an aerosol with a lot of chemicals that we don’t know a lot about,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell said that such flavors appeal to youths. “They market to young people very heavily,” Caldwell said. Manufacturers of e-cigarettes offer many flavors such as mint, watermelon, mango and more. The Trump administration recently signed into law a partial ban on flavored e-cigarettes, but it only went into effect last weeks. She said that through her work with the Middle Georgia Alcohol & Substance Abuse Prevention Project she has found that most teens do not know that e-cigarettes contain nicotine. She said studies have shown that most teens think e-cigarettes contain flavored water.

“We know nicotine to be very addictive,” Caldwell said. “They think they’re not getting nicotine or they think it is safer than a regular cigarette. “She said that research shows that the human brain is not fully developed until about the age of 25, and the use of e-cigarettes can potentially cause developmental disorders. “Over time, (vaping) can create very adverse and serious health issues with-in our young people,” she said. Caldwell said it can be difficult for parents and teachers to know if teens are vaping. Some vaping devices look like everyday items such as USB drives. There are also lines of clothing and accessories with hidden compartments that teens could use to hide vaping products. She encourages parents and teachers who discover such items to have conversations with kids.

“The bottom line here is e-cigarettes are not safe for you, not safe for adults, not safe for young adults, pregnant women or adults who do not currently use tobacco products,” Caldwell said. “It was seen as a way to help and support people who were using regular cigarettes to wean off but now that’s even starting to change because of the levels of nicotine.