Rexburg law enforcement is concerned about the rising popularity of vaping among teens and vaping’s health effects, according to Lieutenant Colin Erickson of the Rexburg Police Department.
Between 2013 and 2014, the percentage of high school e-cigarette users tripled, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey. It rose from 4.5 percent to 13.4 percent.
“We’ve seen a definite spike in our schools with vaping,” said Lieutenant Colin Erickson.
Erickson said he has spoken with many high school-age youths who said they found e-cigarette liquid, known as e-liquid, more addictive than tobacco cigarettes.
“Instead of three or four cigarettes a day, they vape 20 times a day,” Erickson said.
Erickson said the reason teenagers are interested in e-cigarettes is because of the available flavors, the ability to make large clouds, and the fact that it is the newest electronic device.
“It looks cool to them; it’s techy,” said Trent Carrell, owner of five vape shops in Idaho.
Although there is very little regulation for these products, Carrell said he clearly posted on his shops’ doors the mandate to be 18 years old to purchase e-cigarettes.
Carrell said it is currently illegal under Idaho state law to sell to minors.
Erickson said he leads community coalition classes where he explains the history of vaping, how it became a trend, and how teenagers use it today.
“My worry and my focus is I see a lot of youth buying it, and not just one,” Erickson said.
Carrell said the e-cigarette is meant to help current smokers quit.
Jonathan Foulds, professor of Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, conducted a study in which 3,500 former cigarette smokers switched to using e-cigarettes. The former cigarette smokers reported feeling less addicted to the nicotine-filled e-liquid than to tobacco cigarettes, according to Foulds’ study.
Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University, and other professors conducted a study of adolescent teenagers using e-cigarettes.
The Yale professors were surprised at the number of teenagers using the products, according to Krishnan-Sarin’s study.
“The other thing that both surprised and worried me is that adolescents who have never smoked cigarettes are initiating use of e-cigarettes,” according to Krishnan-Sarin’s study.
Carrell said the two main problems associated with e-cigarettes include their online availability to anyone and parents allowing children use them.
“It’s not something you’d want kids to get started on,” Carrell said.
Erickson said he advises parents to educate themselves about trends among teenagers.
“We know very little about the content and safety of these products,” according to Krishnan-Sarin’s study.
Carrell said e-liquid contains nicotine and is available in different concentrations.
“There is zero nicotine e-liquid,” Carrell said, talking about the available high and low concentrations of nicotine.
Carrell said it contains just three food-grade ingredients, which are normally found in toothpaste: vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and food flavoring.
“’How can it be so bad for you if it tastes so good?’” Erickson said, quoting a high school student.
Abigail Seymour, a junior studying nursing, said the side effects of chronic nicotine users include inability to cope and focus, decreased appetite and circulation, and lack of sleep.
“It makes sleep restless and can even mess with dreams,” Seymour said.
Seymour said nicotine disrupts the deep sleep cycle, which is the most important part of sleep.
“This is shorter and therefore the body does not complete the processing and mental and emotional refilling,” Seymour said.
She said e-cigarettes have the potential to be good for people who want to stop smoking because it could help smokers get rid of their addiction to nicotine.
Dr. Harold J. Farber, Pediatric Pulmonologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, said nicotine alters the brain’s structure, according to Forbes.com.
“The most damaging thing that happens is the disruption of normal signaling from your brain, in relation to neurotransmitters,” said Tabitha Daugherty, a senior studying nursing.
Daugherty said breaking dependency on nicotine is difficult for people.
“Just as any drug shouldn’t be taken by the typical, healthy person, neither should nicotine,” Daugherty said