The popularity of cigarette smoking among teens seems to be giving way to the boom of electronic nicotine-delivery systems, also known as vaping for the vapors these devices emit. New research indicates the potential dangers of e-cigarettes extend even beyond the person doing the vaping: Exposure to aerosols from these devices, even secondhand exposure, could mean a greater risk of asthma attacks in pre-teens and teens.
The possible links between this exposure and cases of chronic lung disease are not as well-known as the dangers of smoking cigarettes, but researchers cited a recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that showed an increase in coughing and wheezing in teens who use e-cigarettes.
The researchers also studied Florida Department of Health’s 2016 Youth Tobacco Survey, which looked at about 12,000 youth aged 11 to 17 who had been diagnosed with asthma. The survey asked about asthma attacks in the past year, collected demographic information, and inquired about exposure to cigarette, cigar, hookah, secondhand smoke and vaping in the previous month. More than 20 percent of those surveyed reported having an asthma attack during the past year, and 33 percent of those reported inhaling secondhand vaping aerosol.
The researchers suggested health professionals consider screening for and documenting the use of the devices among their teenage patients because of the threat of triggering a dangerous asthma attack.
Just as health officials nationwide are seeing a welcome drop in the number of teens smoking cigarettes, a new health threat appears to be growing on the horizon.