Thursday, January 12, 2017

E-Cigarettes May Cause Kids to Break into Homes and Turn to a Life of Street Crime, Physician Warns

An emergency medicine physician has warned that e-cigarettes may lead to kids breaking into homes and turning to a life of street crime in order to feed their addictions to serious drugs.

In a Huffington Post column, he claims that due to e-cigarette experimentation: "teenagers — and even younger children — are getting addicted early, which could lead to smoking, and e-cigs can easily become a gateway to trying and developing an addiction to more serious drugs. Addiction correlates to crime. People need to feed their habit, they break into homes to steal things to resell, they commit robberies on the streets, all to get money to feed their addiction."

In the column, the physician also claims that vaping causes popcorn lung: "We know that when inhaled, diacetyl causes a type of bronchitis known as “popcorn lung” — a scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs resulting in the thickening and narrowing of the airways."

To put the icing on the cake, he claims that smoking may not be any more hazardous than vaping: "The act of “vaping” is often thought of as a safer alternative to smoking, but that’s not necessarily the case."

The Rest of the Story

Not a day has passed in 2017 that an anti-tobacco group or health professional hasn't lied to the public about the health risks of e-cigarettes. The contestants for the 2017 Lie of the Year Award are already lining up in huge numbers, and it's only early January.

Just to set the records straight, there is no current evidence that e-cigarette experimentation leads to an addiction to smoking or any other drugs. There isn't even evidence that e-cigarette use causes nonsmoking youth to become addicted to vaping itself. The overwhelming majority of nonsmoking youth who have experimented with e-cigarettes have not become regular vapers. The proportion of nonsmoking youth who report having vaped in the past 30 days is substantial, but the percentage of those who vape daily - a pattern suggesting addiction - is very small. So it's a bit of a stretch perhaps to argue that a kid who tries an e-cigarette today will tomorrow be breaking into homes to feed a serious drug addiction.

There is also no evidence that vaping causes popcorn lung. Despite of the fact that there are millions of vapers in the U.S., there has not been a single reported case of popcorn lung among this population. Moreover, smoking itself has not been associated with popcorn lung, and cigarette smoking exposes users to levels of diacetyl that are hundreds of times higher than with vaping.

Finally, there is abundant evidence that smoking is far more hazardous than vaping. This is hardly surprising, since e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco and there is no combustion or smoke.

I'm sure this physician is well-intended and is just trying to protect kids from potential risks; however, I don't think we need to lie to kids or greatly exaggerate the risks. Not only is it inappropriate to lie to and mislead youth, but this strategy has been shown many times over not to work.

The rest of the story: Just remember, the kid you see blowing vape rings today in the school courtyard at recess will soon be a street criminal who is breaking into homes to feed an insatiable addiction to heroin. It's bubble gum and cotton candy vapes today, but it's smack tomorrow.

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