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Young People with ADHD at an Increased Risk of ‘Vaping’

Did you know that about 7 in 10 high school students are exposed to advertising for e-cigarettes? These ads often portray the product released by the vapor in the e-cigarettes as flavorful and less risky than smoking regular tobacco cigarettes. The result can be seen in a recent increase in the number of teens and young adults who have taken up “vaping.”

One study noted that 46 percent of children with ADHD were daily smokers by the age of 17, compared to 24 percent of their peers without ADHD. In 2017, 36 percent of 12th grade students had tried vaping.

“I don't really think about it,” says one high school student who vapes after seeing friends use e-cigarettes. “It's just advertised as being healthier than smoking cigarettes."

Marketers and makers of these products are targeting young people as potential customers. E-cigarette ads use many of the same themes as tobacco cigarettes to attract new and younger smokers—making the images of smokers seem cool, independent or sexy. For young people affected by ADHD, the lure of vaping could be very strong.

"There are over 7,000 flavors of e-cigarettes on the market, including flavors like gummy bear [and] cotton candy," Vince Willmore, with the non-profit group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, tells CBS News.  "Those are flavors that clearly appeal to kids."

“The same advertising tactics the tobacco industry used years ago to get kids addicted to nicotine are now being used to entice a new generation of young people to use e-cigarettes,” says former CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “I hope all can agree that kids should not use e-cigarettes.”

E-cigarettes still deliver nicotine, a highly addictive substance and one that is difficult to quit once addiction forms. Cigarette addiction has been seen to run in families, as children are exposed to smoking by parents or other family members. Smoking has been linked to many health conditions, including cancer and heart disease. The American Lung Association states that in addition to nicotine, e-cigarettes have been found to contain toxic cancer-causing chemicals and substances, such as formaldehyde, that are inhaled directly into the lungs. It has also expressed concern about the potential for nicotine poisoning related to the liquid vaporized by the e-cigarettes.

A recently released study indicates that toxic metals, including  chromium, nickel, and lead, are vaporized from the heating coil along with the vaping liquid and inhaled by the user. These metals are known to have to health-damaging effects on the human body.

It’s important to talk with your children and teens about the risks of vaping just as you do when it comes to traditional cigarettes.  For suggestions on starting the conversation, visit the CDC’s You(th) & Tobacco information.

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This article appeared in ADHD Weekly on March 01, 2018.

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