Public Health Urges Awareness About the Risks of Electronic Cigarettes

Public Health Urges Awareness About the Risks of Electronic Cigarettes

e-cigarette vaping young female

Public Health Urges Awareness About the Risks of Electronic Cigarettes and Thanks Elected Officials for Prohibiting Their Use in Parks


From 2017 to 2018, electronic smoking/vaping increased 78% among high school youth and 48% among middle school youth. While significant progress in reducing cigarette smoking among youth has occurred, the ever-evolving tobacco product market threatens this headway. The use of any tobacco/nicotine product is unsafe for young people.

There are hundreds of types of electronic smoking devices (ESD’s) available in thousands of candy, fruit and cereal flavors. They are known by many different names including “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “juuls” and “vape pens.” These devices produce an aerosol, not a harmless water vapor. This aerosol can contain heavy metals, cancer causing toxins and other chemicals not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for inhalation. 

The most popular brand, JUUL, is small, sleek, and easy to hide and use. It resembles a USB flash drive and has a high level of nicotine. One cartridge or “pod” contains about as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes. Most youth and young adults who use it do not know that JUUL always contains nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development, which continues until about age 25. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can negatively affect learning, memory, mood, impulsivity and attention. Also, there is evidence ESD use increases future frequency and intensity of traditional cigarette smoking and risk for other drug addiction.

This past year, one way both the City of Grinnell and Poweshiek County Conservation have tried to protect the health of the public, and especially youth, from the risks of these devices, is by prohibiting the use of all tobacco products, including ESD’s, in their parks. Thank you to city elected officials and county conservation board director and members for passing these ordinances to reduce youth initiation of tobacco products and help adults quit.

“It’s important that parents, educators and health care providers gather accurate information about JUUL and other ESD’s and share these risks with youth and young adults,” says Crystal VandeKamp, RN, CLC, for UnityPoint Health® – Grinnell Regional Public Health.

Access FREE educational and quitting resources:

  • Search Online - CDC The Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults; CDC E-cigarettes Shaped Like USB Flash Drives; CDC Talk with Your Teen about E-cigarettes
  • Quitline Iowa 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), or visit quitlineiowa.org
  • Become a Smokefree Teen - teen.smokefree.gov
  • This is Quitting - text “QUIT” to 706-222-QUIT