MANHATTAN (KSNT) – Health experts are weighing in on the dangers posed to teens who use electronic cigarettes, which is also known as vaping.

The K-State Research and Extension Office posted an article on Oct. 16 detailing how the practice of using cigarettes or the modern equivalent, e-cigarettes, is causing harm to Kansas teens. Donna Gerstner with Live Well Finney County says the use of tobacco among teenagers can lead to dangerous side-effects.

More than 60% of students who vape on a regular basis have reported feeling depressed compared to around 30% of those who say they’ve never used e-cigarettes. Eight out of 10 youths who vape also reported additional substance abuse such as alcohol or marijuana.

“So you see that it’s really scary that youth are using vapes because it causes suicidal behavior,” said Gerstner.

A 2020 report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) cited by K-State says nearly half of Kansas high school students have tried vaping with 22% being current users. The report goes on to state that more than 60,000 Kansans under the age of 18 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.

“The tobacco industry is creating vaping products that appeal to young people,” Gerstner said. “This includes vaping pens that look like USB drives, ballpoint pens, watches and even vape wear, such as a hoodie where the vape comes out of the drawstrings.”

Vaping has risen in popularity among teens as it was believed the practice was healthier than traditional smoking and less expensive, according to K-State. However, the cloud produced during vaping can contain harmful poisons which can lead to “third-hand smoke.”

“When somebody is vaping in an area, they leave chemicals on nearby surfaces, then dust reacts to other chemicals in the environment to form toxic chemicals,” Gerstner said. “That’s third-hand smoke. These are potentially harmful chemicals that people and animals can be exposed to through the respiratory system. Small children are especially at-risk for third-hand smoke exposure because they always put everything in their mouth.”

Gerstner supports a statewide program for youths called RESIST, which focuses on fighting against “manipulative marketing tactics” used by tobacco industries, according to K-State. You can learn more about this topic by tuning in to Gerstner’s “It’s Not So Kool to Juul” presentation on YouTube.

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