About one-quarter of New Hampshire’s high schoolers said they have tried or regularly use electronic cigarettes, even as the U.S. Surgeon General is warning that the devices are a health hazard because they contain nicotine.
A report released Thursday by the Surgeon General, E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults, finds that youth and young adults are vulnerable to the long-term consequences of exposing the brain to nicotine, and concludes that youth use of nicotine in any form is unsafe.
The report also said that secondhand aerosol that is exhaled into the air by e-cigarette users can expose others to potentially harmful chemicals.
Electronic cigarettes and other “vaping” devices use batteries to convert liquid nicotine into a mist that is inhaled, often along with flavorings. Inhaling the mist is less harmful than inhaling cigarette smoke with its toxins like carbon monoxide and tar, but the report notes that they are not safe.
“This report views e-cigarette use as a public health threat, particularly to the developing brains of New Hampshire youth,” said Lisa Morris, director of the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services. “The immediate health dangers and the consequences of long-term use are not known at this time. We want residents to know there is help available to quit.”
In 2015, 25 percent of high-school-age youth reported using what are officially called “electronic nicotine delivery systems, according to New Hampshire Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance survey.
In New Hampshire, e-cigarettes are considered a tobacco product and therefore cannot be purchased by anyone under the age of 18 and cannot be smoked in public places.
Results from the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey show us that six percent of adults used an electronic cigarette or vapor device.