Parents, wise up about ‘vaping’

When it comes to teenagers and “vaping,” the everyday term for use of electronic cigarettes, most parents don’t know what they don’t know.

The practice is defined — yes, vape is now a Merriam-Webster dictionary entry — as the inhalation of vapor through the mouth from a usually battery-operated electronic device (such as an electronic cigarette) that heats up and vaporizes a liquid or solid.

Because it produces quickly dissipating vapor instead of the smoke associated with ignited tobacco, vaping is promoted by manufacturers as a safer and less obtrusive — meaning easier to hide from adults — practice than smoking. Nonetheless, vaping still delivers nicotine, one of the most addictive drugs around, in substantial quantities. It has other chemical components that also are not conducive for health.

Vaping among teens is skyrocketing, and officials at the Food and Drug Administration are sounding the alarm.

Several weeks ago, they reported that the practice has jumped almost 80 percent among high schoolers and 50 percent among middle schoolers — in just one year. An estimated 3.6 million teens use e-cigarettes, the agency said. This, while teen use of other drugs is declining. The FDA notes that manufacturers flavor their products, making them more palatable for children, and it wants regulations against that. A public hearing on the problem is set for Friday, Jan. 18, at FDA headquarters in suburban Washington.

Parents need to learn more about this health hazard. A good place to start is the FDA’s website on the issue, …

Though it does not involve putting a match to a cigarette, vaping is associated with many of the health hazards of smoking, not the least of which is nicotine addiction. The sudden rise in vaping is alarming, regardless of the user’s age, but especially so among our teens.

The need for parental awareness is crucial, and it’s positive that school officials are taking that message to parents.

— Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph-Herald