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'Epidemic' of dangerous youth e-cigarette, vaping use, surgeon general declares
The U.S. surgeon general on Tuesday issued a strong warning against Electronic Cigarette use by young people, called it "unsafe" in any form and termed vaping an "epidemic."
"Two years after my predecessor sounded the alarm bells, youth e-cigarette use has skyrocketed -- so much so today that I am officially declaring e-cigarette use among youth an epidemic in the United States," said U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, known as the "nation's doctor," at a news conference.
"And I don't want there to be any misconceptions about this. I don't use that word, epidemic, which means a sudden increase about normally expected numbers, I do not use that word lightly," Adams said.
It's a considerably sterner and more specific warning than the one Adams referenced from 2016, when the same federal office identified vaping as an emerging public health concern. Since then, studies have shown a sharp uptick among young people using the devices and companies that sell the liquid nicotine in flavors that appeal to teens.
Adams was joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who emphasized data showing a historic increase in e-cigarette use that outpaces youth use of any other substance."The bottom line is that in the data sets we use, we’ve never seen use of any substance, and by America's young people, rise this rapidly. This is an unprecedented challenge," Azar said.
According to Adams, of particular concern is the availability of new products, including ones shaped like a USB flash drive. The office has released photos of what the devices look like as a resource to parents.One such device made by the company JUUL saw a 600 percent surge in sales in recent years, according to Adams. And a typical JUUL cartridge, or "pod," contains about as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes, his office stated.
"Today, we must protect our nation's young people from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and associated problems by immediately addressing youth e-cigarette use," Adams said. "We're far too often, in health and in public health, late to the game. But now is the time to take action."