MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – While vape products wait on FDA approval, the Trump administration is working to pull non-tobacco flavored vape products from shelves. A pediatrician at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and a vape store owner said it is the nicotine in the products that has kids hooked.
Dr. Michelle Bowden is a pediatrician at Le Bonheur and said the rise the kids and teenagers using vape products has grown tremendously in years. She said there can be harmful carcinogens in the products that are making kids sick.
“The scariest part to me is that our kids are vaping at increasingly rapid numbers, and it’s been the fastest addictive substance we have seen in generations,” Dr. Bowden said.
The growing trend of popular products, like Juul and other e-cigarettes, are appealing to kids because the products can be used discreetly and often come in various flavors.
“They look like a USB drive, they put out very little smoke output,” Dr. Bowden said. “So, they are easy to use in a bathroom or in the back of class or at home.”
Dr. Bowden said the problem with these products goes beyond the flavor options. The high amounts of nicotine in these products can have long term effects on the brain and lungs of young people.
“That nicotine content for an adolescent brain is actually more addictive to a teenager than it is to an adult,” Dr. Bowden said.
Todd Donk, owner of Zooks Vapor, said vaping helped him stop smoking cigarettes. However, he said the deaths and disease related to vaping have been scary. He said some of the biggest issues with kids using vape products is who and where they are getting the products from. Since most vape stores will not sell to anyone under 18 years old, many kids will turn to sketchy dealers on the streets.
“They’re easy to demonize the product,” Donk said. “Again, they’re not going after the point of sales problems that we have across the nation.”
He agrees that it’s the nicotine that has kids hooked to the products more than the different flavors.
“They like this buzz,” Donk said. “Especially with the Juul, it’s such a high dose of nicotine. But it’s meant for a heavy smoker, not a non-smoking youth.”
Six people have died and hundreds more have been sickened from vaping. Initial reports have indicated most were sickened after vaping black market THC that had vitamin E oil in it.
The Trump administration is pushing for the ban until vape products are officially approved by the FDA.