You may not be aware of the electronic cigarette fad. So called e-cigarettes are “smokeless” cigarettes. They consist of a battery used to create heat, a cartridge (which contains water, some type of flavoring, and quite often nicotine) and a vaporizer. Some people call “smoking” these e-cigarettes “vaping”, because of the creation of vapor.
Advocates of vaping often tout these cigarettes as “healthy alternatives” to tobacco smoking and even promote their use to smokers who are trying to quit.
However, American and Canadian dentists and researchers are now beginning to question the safety of these e-cigarettes, especially as their use among youth has skyrocketed. It is estimated that 2 million American middle and high school students are using e-cigarettes recreationally. This statistic is particularly significant, because it shows a huge growth in e-cigarettes’ popularly among young people, as now three times as many kids are vaping than were reported as recently as 2013.
E-cigarettes contain flavors that make them more palatable to young people, and they are often directly marketed to young people. Of particular concern is the effect of e-cigarettes on oral health.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), a division of the National Institute of Health, recently announced a new research initiative. The Food and Drug Administration admits that not enough research has been conducted on the safety of e-cigarettes. However, the Centers for Disease Control want parents to know that nicotine is addictive and considered an impediment to brain development for adolescents. E-cigarettes very often contain nicotine and are often promoted as safe alternatives to tobacco products.
The NIDCR research will focus on whether the cells and tissues of the mouth are negatively affected by vaping.
In the meantime, the Canadian Dental Health Authority has come down even stronger in opposition to teenage vaping and has advocated for the following changes in Canadian law:
- A ban on e-cigarettes sales to minors.
- A ban on flavorings in cartridges and e-liquids.
- A ban on e-cigarette use in public places and workplaces.