Teens and e-cig addiction: What physicians are saying

As e-cigarettes have exploded in popularity among teens over the past two years, pediatricians are reporting extreme side effects more commonly associated with substance-abuse disorders, according to The Washington Post.

 Five things to know about teens and e-cigarettes:

1. E-cigarette use among teens is increasing. Over 37 percent of 12th-graders said they vaped at least once in the past 12 months in 2018, compared to 28 percent in 2017.

2. E-cigarette addiction has particularly severe consequences among teens, according to anecdotal evidence from addiction specialists in Boston and New York as well as families.

3. Teens addicted to e-cigarettes experience nicotine toxicity and respiratory problems, such as restrictive lung disease. They can also have mood swings, anxiety and low energy levels, among other side effects.

"These kids have behaviors that we often see in patients who have opioid and marijuana addiction," said Sharon Levy, MD, director of Boston Children's Hospital's adolescent substance use and addiction program.

4. Physicians believe the extreme side effects may be due to e-cigarettes' design, which allows users to ingest larger amounts of nicotine than they would in traditional cigarettes. E-cigarette vapor is also gentler on the throat, which allows people to use them more frequently.

5. Experts worry pediatricians lack training and resources to help young people quit. There is not much evidence that traditional treatment options for adult smokers, such as nicotine patches, work well for young people, according to Jonathan Winickoff, MD, a pediatrician and researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

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