An advisory just issued by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams prompted by the skyrocketing rates of e-cigarette use among teens warns parents that any use of e-cigarettes is dangerous.

“E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless,” said the Surgeon General. “Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine – the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm the developing brain – which continues to develop until about age 25.”

The advisory also noted that nicotine exposure during adolescence can impact learning, memory, and attention and increase the risk for future addiction to other drugs.

A 96 percent increase

Adams’ warning comes on the heels of the 2018 Monitoring the Future Survey, which shows that e-cigarette use has risen a staggering 90 percent among 12th graders (from 11.0 to 20.9 percent), 96 percent among 10th graders (from 8.2 to 16.1 percent), and 74 percent among 8th graders (from 3.5 to 6.1 percent). According to the survey's researchers, this is the largest increase in the survey's 40-plus-year history for any adolescent substance use outcome in the U.S.

The American Lung Association (ALA) says Adams’ assessment of the health risk of e-cigarettes highlights the need for parents, educators and health professionals to be aware of new types of e-cigarettes on the market, including JUUL and look-a-like products, and the negative health consequences of youth use of these products.

Action is needed

The ALA is calling for immediate action by key stakeholders, including states and communities, to protect children.

"In light of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) failure to take meaningful action, it is clear that states and localities must act to protect our nation's youth,” according to a statement by  the organization. “In his advisory, the Surgeon General lays out a set of bold actions that states and localities can and should take, including adding e-cigarettes to smokefree air laws, increasing the price of e-cigarettes and restricting youth access to flavored e-cigarettes. 

"However, this does not absolve FDA from taking action. FDA must take immediate steps to fully enforce its 2016 'deeming' rule and remove all flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes, from the market.

"Our nation no longer has time for partial solutions. The Surgeon General has made it clear that urgent action is needed; the health of our children is at stake."