Vaping is not kid stuff. Electronic smoking devices, often called e-cigarettes and vapes, pose a threat to the health of young people.
The U.S. Surgeon General recently issued an advisory about "the e-cigarette epidemic among youth."
The advisory stated, "In 2018, more than 3.6 million U.S. youth, including 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students, currently use e-cigarettes."
It's important to make it clear that e-cigarette use among young people is harmful. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive.
"Nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm the developing brain – which continues to develop until about age 25," the advisory states. "Nicotine exposure during adolescence can impact learning, memory, and attention. Using nicotine in adolescence can also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs."
It's critical to raise awareness about vaping dangers on Guam. About 13.2 percent of U.S. high school students reported vaping in the past 30 days, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey for 2017. Guam reported double the use at 26.5 percent.
With so much at stake, we all must step up efforts to clamp down on vaping among young people. Parents, teachers and other adults must educate teens about the dangers. Stores must follow the law and not sell e-cigarettes to those who are under 21.
In an interview with The Guam Daily Post, a local health advocate shared good recommendations for curbing vaping among young people.
Cathy Rivera Castro, co-chairperson of the Guam Cancer Control Coalition and co-lead of the Tobacco Control Coalition/Tobacco Control Action Team, suggested creating a Tobacco Compliance and Enforcement Inspection Division under the Department of Revenue and Taxation to conduct advertisement and labeling inspections on a daily basis as well as undercover buys.
Such recommendations deserve further consideration to prevent a generation from developing a harmful addiction.
Let's make sure that our island's kids know the facts behind the smokescreen. Their health depends on it.