The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released last week the results of a National Youth Risk Behavior Survey taken in 2015. More than 15,000 students participated in the survey. The information regarding the use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, among students was shocking.
Cigarette usage has decreased from 28 percent in the early 90s to only 11 percent in 2015. But according to the survey, 24 percent of high school students reported vaping in the last 30 days.
CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. believes that any form of tobacco use is not good for young people. “It’s troubling to see that students are engaging in new risk behaviors, such as using e-cigarettes,” Frieden said. “We must continue to invest in programs that help reduce all forms of tobacco use, including e-cigarettes, among youth.”
The use of e-cigarettes holds risks for adults and students alike because of the alleged harmful chemicals contained in the vaping liquid. It is especially disturbing to consider that students may be exposed to such toxic chemicals such as diacetyl, or 2,3 pentanedione (a diacetyl substitute) at such a young age.
These are chemicals that produce a buttery or creamy flavoring, which are often used to flavor vaping liquids. Diacetyl and 2,3 pentanedione have been linked to obliterative bronchiolitis, a serious lung disease where the smallest airways of the lungs become scarred and restricted. The disease is better known as “popcorn lung” for the microwave popcorn plant workers that developed the lung disease in 2000 after long-term workplace exposure to the flavoring agent.
Diacetyl was found in nearly 75 percent of e-cigarette flavorings that were tested. The exposure to the chemical may be heightened in this form because it is heated before it is inhaled. An article published by the University of California, San Francisco, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education noted that the Flavor Extract Manufacturer’s Association (FEMA) warns about this risk, saying,“Heating of flavors is of particular concern with regard to potential hazardous exposures. Heating will increase volatility and greatly increase air concentrations of flavoring substances.”