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Treating youth tobacco use: an essential part of tobacco control

by Rachael Joyner, DNP, FNP-BC, APRN

More than 3 million middle and high school students are using tobacco products, according to the latest National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS). E-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product (9.4%), with more than 1 in 4 teens using these devices daily.


Though the FDA banned all flavorings except menthol and tobacco in reusable e-cigarettes in 2020, this ban did not include disposable devices, which are most popular with teens. According to the NYTS, 85% of youths used flavored e-cigarette devices.


More studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of e-cigarette use, but several studies have confirmed the short-term negative health impacts of e-cigarettes, which include respiratory and cardiovascular harms. There are several toxic compounds generated by e-cigarette smoke, including formaldehyde, lead, and carbon monoxide.

Image source: CDC

The main non-nicotine ingredients in e-cigarettes are propylene glycol (PG), glycerol, and flavorings. Vaping research thus far has established that inhaling flavoring agents can be detrimental to lungs, but the long-term effects of all flavor chemicals used in e-cigarettes (more than 15,000) remain unknown. Other studies have shown that e-cigarette aerosols containing PG and vegetable glycerin, cause inflammation in human lungs.


Almost 90% of adult daily smokers, report initiating their tobacco use by age 18, which makes targeted youth tobacco cessation efforts so important. Adolescent brains, which are still developing, are especially susceptible to nicotine addiction.


Gain the tools and knowledge needed to effectively help this population with our new upcoming training: Tobacco Treatment in Adolescent and Young Adult Populations. This half-day virtual training provides 8.5 CE hours and includes faculty from Yale, Duke, UNC, and the NC Department of Health and Human Services.


Visit https://www.dukeunctts.com/youth to learn more and register for this intensive, evidence-based training tailored for healthcare and non-healthcare professionals who work with youth and young adults – Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023, from 11 am to 5 pm EST.

About the Author

Rachael Joyner, DNP, FNP-BC, APRN, is a family nurse practitioner with the Duke Smoking Cessation Program. She holds a National Certificate in Tobacco Treatment Practice and received her Doctorate in Nursing Practice from the University of Florida. She loves working collaboratively with patients to help them become tobacco free.

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