The e-cigarette market has been onfire the past few years. With nearly 500brands and 7,700 flavors of e-cigaretteson the market, according to theAmericanLung Association, these electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) aresparking renewed interest and debatesaround the use of tobacco products andthe harmful effects of nicotine.

“We feel that it is important to educatethe community on the potential harmsand risks of vaping,” said Angela Cochran, director of Chronic DiseasePrevention & Control forSt. Mary’sCounty Health Department. “As theresearch evolves we continue to gainmore knowledge on how e-cigarette useaffects our health.”

In 2015, the Health Department createdthe VapeAware awareness campaignto help provide the latest informationon this trendy smoking alternative. Italso works with theTobacco Free LivingAction Team of the Healthy St. Mary’sPartnershipto improve tobacco-relatedhealth outcomes in the county.

“The Health Department works on reducing the use of all forms of tobaccoproducts, including e-cigarettes,” Angelasaid. “We try to focus on population-level strategies such as including e-cigarettes into smoke-free indoor air policies andrestricting youth access to e-cigarettesin retail settings.”

What is particularly disturbing is thetrend among adolescents and teens.According to the Maryland 2016 YouthRisk Behavior Survey, 42 percent of teenrespondents in St. Mary’s County hadtried electronic vapor products within the30 days prior to taking the survey.

“Recent reports are showing substantialevidence that e-cigarette use increasesthe likelihood youth and young adultswill eventually begin using combustibletobacco cigarettes,” Angela said.“Despite the popularity of e-cigarettes,we continue to promote awarenessthrough a comprehensive tobaccocontrol program that focuses onprevention and cessation of all tobaccoproducts, including e-cigarettes, amongyouth.”

Know the Health Risks

New studies are also showing thate-cigarettes are not as harmless as manywould like to believe. Although not as toxic as smoking regular cigarettes, useof ENDS still comes with many risks including exposure to nicotine andother aerosols which are known cancercausers.

“Research on this is still pending in a fewareas because long-term effects haven’t had a chance to be studied,” said PamLaigle, BSN, RN, PCCN, clinical leaderof theGrace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehab Center. However,research has discovered other effectson the cardiovascular system as well asnew evidence of what is called ‘popcorn’lung, a serious and irreversible lung disease.“Anything other than breathing oxygen,”said Pam, “essentially is not good.” more information on theGrace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, therisks of tobacco use, and smoking cessation resources.