Humberto Choi, M.D. with the Cleveland Clinic, says people often believe that e-cigarettes are actually safer than smoking. That perception is then used as a marketing ploy, especially to teens.
Research has shown that e-vaping can cause inflammation in the lungs, according to Dr. Choi. E-cigarettes also contain addictive nicotine and cancer-causing carcinogens, just like tobacco cigarettes.
“The fact that so many teens are using electronic cigarettes is worrisome, because these teenagers are being exposed to nicotine levels that can be addictive,” said Dr. Choi. “We know that the electronic cigarettes contain chemicals that can be harmful - that are known to cause cancer - and we’ll see in the future if the harms are the same as regular cigarettes or not.”
The younger a smoker starts, the more potential there is for long-term health issues, says Dr. Choi.
“Have this conversation with everyone – especially with teenagers,” he said. “Every teenager should have a conversation with their parents, or at their school, about the dangers of smoking cigarettes or electronic cigarettes.”
Dr. Choi says that bright-colored packaging and flavors like mango and chocolate are intentionally aimed at younger customers. The FDA has recently taken steps to address the way e-cigarettes are marketed hoping to curb the sale to younger smokers.