Youths need targeted communication on the harms of nicotine to prevent uptake of vaping

In order to be seen to be socially trendy, youths fall into the habit of cigarette smoking with the current generation preferring the innovation of vaping. In the quest to prevent youth uptake of vaping, communicating the harms of nicotine to kids should be the core strategy.

This was presented by Associate Prof Jennifer Pearson during the E-Cigarette Summit USA, 2022 in which she moderated discussions on the challenges faced by public health professionals when communicating the harms of vaping to youth in the real world.

From government health messaging to working with kids in schools, her session explored how to optimize youth education and communication to reach the right kids with the right message at the right time. Pearson, who is in health administration & policy at the University of Nevada, explored personal experiences working in youth vaping prevention and treatment; the real-world concerns that youth and parents have about vaping and deciding what to tell youth about nicotine vaping and to whom to deliver that message.

Associate Prof Jennifer Pearson

The session also discussed people’s experiences as to how nicotine vaping intersects with mental distress, adverse childhood events, and other substance use. The Summit observed that the priority that remains is to prevent teens from becoming part of the tobacco risk continuum but also develop strategies for what should be done for kids that are already addicted?

The session explored US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) understanding of the mindset of susceptible teens; what factors contribute to making them so vulnerable and for addicted teens, why FDA encourages complete cessation while still noting that smoking combustibles is the most harmful way to get nicotine.

On the question of ‘does nicotine harm the developing brain’?, Pearson observed that “with the rise of vaping, claims increased that the association shows adverse effects of nicotine on the developing brain, either during pregnancy, or via smoking in adolescence”.

“In animal studies, very large and stressful nicotine dosing of developing foetus and during early adolescence generated a range of pathological outcomes. However it is not clear whether this is relevant for nicotine self-administration in humans.”

The Summit also discussed the fact that cigarette smokers who do not plan to quit are often overlooked in population studies. It was stated that from a cohort study of 1,600 adult daily cigarette smokers the majority did not initially use e-cigarettes and had no plans to ever quit smoking.

The main outcomes were discontinuation of cigarette smoking and discontinuation of daily cigarette smoking at the follow-up interview.

“These findings call for consideration of smokers who are not planning to quit when evaluating the risk-benefit potential of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation in the population.”

These Summits are continuing in pursuit of promoting innovative and aggressive measures to facilitate quitting smoking among almost 70% of smokers who want to quit — taking cognizance that cigarette smoking continues claiming millions of lives each year through its health-related implications.

The FDA takes note that the continuum of risk is a cornerstone of a nicotine-based framework for public health proposed by the FDA in 2016 and that the idea is that products that deliver nicotine fall on a spectrum of risk based on toxicity and addictiveness.

“Combusted tobacco products such as cigarettes pose the highest risk, both in toxicity and addictiveness,” Prof. Neal L. Benowitz MD (Professor of Medicine Emeritus at University of California, San Francisco).

“An exception is the very low nicotine content cigarette, which has high toxicity, but low addictiveness, and if mandated by regulation would be expected to promote smoking cessation or switching to less harmful nicotine products.

“Non-combusted nicotine products are less toxic, and if smokers cannot or do not want to quit smoking, switching to these products would benefit their health.”

His presentation reviewed the risks as well as potential benefits of nicotine delivered from sources other than combusted tobacco and also considered the comparative risks of nicotine compared to other widely used drugs, such as alcohol and cannabis.

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Innovative and aggressive measures urgently needed to facilitate quitting smoking — E-cigarette Summit 2022

As cigarette smoking continues to claim millions of lives each year innovative and aggressive measures are urgently needed to facilitate...