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There is no such thing as safe tobacco, yet thousands of Michigan teens have or do use these products even though it is illegal to purchase them unless you are 21 years old.
Here are some tobacco use statistics for Michigan high school students.
- 1 out of 5 students say they've tried cigarette smoking
- 1 out of 2 students reports they've tried vaping
- 1 out of 5 students say they currently vape
- 1 out of 4 students report they currently use a tobacco product (cigarettes, vape, or smokeless)
All tobacco products contain nicotine, and nicotine is a highly addictive drug, which puts you at risk of becoming a lifelong smoker. Teens are especially sensitive to nicotine's addictive effects because their brains are still developing, and this makes it easier to get hooked. Using nicotine at your age can rewire your brain so that it craves more nicotine. It can also have long-term effects on your attention span, learning, and memory. Nicotine can even train your brain to be more easily addicted to other drugs like meth and cocaine.
The bottom line is that there is no such thing as a safe or safer tobacco product.
Let's look at some details about each product.
Cigarettes - harm nearly every organ of the body, contains addictive nicotine, and are known to cause many diseases including strokes, heart disease, and lung cancer. Smoking when you're young can stunt the growth of your lungs and inhibit brain development. Cigarette smoke is filled with over 70 different cancer-causing chemicals.
Smokeless Tobacco - has high levels of dangerous chemicals and nicotine and causes mouth and throat cancer.
Hookah - although smoked through water, has many of the same risks as cigarette smoking and contains carbon monoxide.
E-cigarettes (Vapes) - devices heat a liquid into an aerosol that is inhaled. The aerosol is not harmless water vapor but contains nicotine and other chemicals that are not safe to breathe in. Some devices have even exploded and caused injury.
Vaping has become particularly widespread among Michigan teens. Many young people believe that vaping is safe or at least much safer than using other forms of tobacco.
Let's clear the air and discuss some of the myths about e-cigarettes.
- It's just water vapor. It's not. Vape liquids typically consist of propylene glycol, glycerol, nicotine, and other chemicals. Some e-cigarette aerosols can contain cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde, diacetyl, and acrolein. When you vape, you can also be inhaling toxic metal particles like nickel, chromium, and lead.
- It's just flavoring. The flavoring in vapes comes from chemicals. While these flavorings may be safe in food, they're not safe to be inhaled into your lungs.
- My vape says it doesn't have nicotine. It can be difficult to know exactly what your vape contains. While not all vapes contain nicotine, many say they don't actually do.
- Vaping has fewer chemicals than cigarettes. Vape liquids still contain many harmful chemicals that are breathed deep into the lungs in different ways than regular cigarettes.
- Just because I vape doesn't mean I'll smoke. Teens who vape are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes. Nicotine from any source is highly addictive.
- Vaping is safer than any other smoking. For years we have known that cigarette smoking is a direct cause of disease and death. Vaping is new enough that researchers are still working to identify all the long-term consequences, but there is growing evidence that vaping has its own unique negative health impacts. There is an ongoing outbreak of significant lung illness and death due to vaping. We are also learning that vaping harms your immune system; studies show those who vape are more likely to get respiratory infections. Vaping has serious risks and is not safe for teens.
Are you one of the many Michigan teens vaping or using another tobacco product and want to quit? Do you have a friend you'd like to help? While we know kicking the habit can be hard, there are many ways to get support. Take control today.