You definitely, as a health professional, understand the dangers of “vaping.” However, your patients probably do not. A large number of teenagers in the U.S. and around the world vape regularly, even after hearing the health consequences. Vape culture has overtaken American teenage culture. Only recently have the dangers of vaping been more widely understood as there have been a number of deaths related to vaping in America. So, why has it taken so long for the general public to understand the dangers of vaping? The benefits of vaping were outweighing the costs. It is important to know how to speak to patients about the dangers of vaping. We’ve outlined some tips on how you can relay the dangers of vaping to your patients as their physician.
How to Talk about the Dangers of Vaping
Start with Facts
Some of your patients might not disclose to you that they are vaping. In this case, it is important to relay the facts of vaping in other ways. If you are unable to bring up the facts against vaping organically, then there are other resources you can use. You can find a poster or flyer to display in your office that lists the dangers of vaping. Some quick facts that these posters provide or that you can relay are as follows:
- E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine, chemicals, and some may contain marijuana
- E-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine are still harmful. They can contain harmful substances, heavy metals, organic compounds, and even cancer-causing chemicals
- E-cigarette purchases off the street are extremely risky, they have a greater risk of including harmful substances
- Nicotine is addictive, and e-cigarettes still contain high levels of nicotine
- E-cigarettes can lead to lung disease and illness, as well as respiratory problems
Use Specific Examples
There are several recent examples of the dangers of vaping that may get patients’ attention. The most topical example is the impending federal ban and subsequent state bans on flavored e-cigarettes. Just this week, Massachusetts has ordered the strongest ban on e-cigarettes yet. The governor has ordered a four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products. This ban comes after the CDC issued a broad warning against vaping. The agency has urged state and federal officials to issue bans on e-cigarettes. Massachusetts banned the products after declaring a public health emergency. In early September, Michigan became the first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes. State officials felt that flavored e-cigarettes were the driving force among teen e-cigarette use. They cited research of community health educators which claims “upwards of 80% of teens who start using e-cigarettes start with flavors.”
Even more concerning than the state bans on e-cigarettes are the illnesses and deaths caused by e-cigarettes. The CDC has found over 530 cases of lung injuries in people who use e-cigarettes. Most of the patients used e-cigarettes containing THC. Seven deaths have been confirmed that were related to vaping. Among these patients, all had a history of e-cigarette use. There was also no evidence of infection that would lead to death. Because of this, the CDC suspects that chemical exposure related to e-cigarettes may have been the cause of death for these people.
Warn Young Adults about The Dangers of Vaping
The age group with the highest e-cigarette use is of young adults. Because children and young adults’ brains are still developing, they are more likely to become addicted to nicotine. They will also be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future, should they become addicted to e-cigarettes. Nicotine and other chemicals found in e-cigarettes can harm the parts of the brain related to attention, learning, and impulse. Nicotine can even slow down the formation of brain synapses.
As a physician, it is your responsibility to inform your patients about these possible health risks. It is especially important for you to relay this information to your younger patients. If you are looking to make a difference as a pediatrician, or a physician in another specialty, check out our job postings and find a position today!