Sponsored By American Heart Association

It’s getting scary in North Texas but for reasons you might not think.

It’s a spooky time of year! Ghosts and goblins are creating a fright. But there’s something scarier than well-meaning trick-or-treaters that our community needs to beware. That is the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use. Also known as vaping, e-cigarette use by youth is a critical health issue. E-cigarette use more than doubled among high school students in the past two years alone.

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In North Texas and across the country, e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product by most youth and adolescents, with nearly 30% of high school seniors using the product. E-cigarettes are undoing decades of progress made in reducing youth tobacco use, and they risk addicting millions of young people to nicotine.

The liquid solutions in e-cigarettes typically include nicotine and chemical flavorings, and when heated, they create an aerosol that a user inhales deep into their lungs. That aerosol includes particles of metals and toxic chemicals that have been linked to heart disease, respiratory disease and cancer.

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The facts are startling, and the news reports of lung illnesses related to e-cigarette use are frightening. According to the American Heart Association, taking a stand against e-cigarette use among youth is critical because these products are not authorized by the FDA to be on the market and their long-term health impact is unknown. We do know that nicotine has harmful effects on the adolescent brain and causes addiction, and that kids who use e-cigarettes may transition to traditional cigarettes. Teens, and often their parents, are dangerously unaware of the damaging health impacts.

E-cigarette devices are sometimes called “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems” or “ENDS.” Some devices look like regular cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Many are small and look like USB flash drives, pens, sleek tech gadgets and other everyday items. Many also don’t emit large clouds of aerosol, making them discreet to use – even in a classroom.

The fact remains that it’s easier to stop a child from using tobacco if they never start. For more information, visit www.heart.org/vaping.

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Join the American Heart Association for the Collin County Heart Ball on November 9 at the Omni Frisco Hotel at The Star. This event brings together leaders in Collin County to bring awareness of ways to build healthier lives in our local communities. For more information, visit www.heart.org/collincountyheartball.