CHARLOTTE, NC – Longtime AHA volunteer, member of Greater Charlotte Board of Directors, and retired cardiovascular researcher, Dr. Sandra Burke spent the morning discussing the health risks of e-cigarettes on teens with WFAE Charlotte Talks radio host Mike Collins. Dr. Burke was joined by Dr. Eltaraboulsi, a local pulmonologist with Tryon Medical Partners and Rose Hoban, a reporter with NC Health News. The hour-long program allowed Collins to ask the tough questions such as, “Is vaping as dangerous as smoking regular cigarettes?” Guests on the radio show weighed in with their concerns, comments and expertise in order to educate the listeners on this popular topic.
“Although they aren’t inhaling or digesting the vapor from e-cigarettes, the chemicals can still enter the bloodstream through the lining of their cheeks,” said Dr. Burke. According to both Burke and Dr. Eltaraboulsi, it’s too early to know how much damage is being done and more research is required; yet, the statistics surrounding usage by teens is staggering. In a recent report from the North Carolina Surgeon General, e-cigarette use is up by 400 percent among middle-school students and nearly 900 percent for high school students.
Much of the show’s discussion revolved around the marketing by e-cigarette distributors to attract youth. Refuted in a statement by one manufacturer, and read in-part by Collins on air, the company hasn’t targeted teens with the product and has created an advertising campaign directed at adults and parents to dissuade teens from using e-cigarettes.
“North Carolina used to have a robust prevention program, funded at $17.3 million annually. In 2012 it was cut, leaving no money for youth prevention, as we have seen tobacco use amongst teens increase. This requires us to try and rebuild this program with fewer resources and less funding, and to advocate for more, when possible,” said Burke.
AHA and other health organizations wrote a letter in August 2018 asking the FDA to have greater oversight of companies marketing products to young people, which is illegal under the Tobacco Control Act and FDA’s deeming rule. The FDA recently declared youth e-cigarette use an epidemic and announced new regulations to curb this trend.
It’s safe to say that “the jury is still out” on health risks with e-cigarettes, but these expert panelists all agreed that there is certainly a problem among teens and this could be a bad thing for the overall health of our community.
To hear the podcast of the radio program click here.
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