GREENSBORO, N.C. – The American Heart Association has launched a campaign called #QuitLying, aimed at addressing youth e-cigarette use and holding vaping companies accountable for misleading marketing. The strongly worded initiative comes as one in four high school students nationwide reports using e-cigarettes.
Joshua Swift, Forsyth County public-health director, said the widespread use and normalization of vaping among young people is troubling.
“I am really most concerned about our youth who are turning to vaping products,” he said. “We’re seeing children as young as third graders in the school systems in Forsyth County that are using these products.”
In addition to calling on teens, schools and communities to hold the e-cigarette industry accountable for what the campaign calls “lying” about nicotine addiction, the effort also includes a $20 million research investment to help scientists study the long-term health impacts of vaping on youths.
Two scientific studies have concluded that vaping is dangerous for adults, but no such research exists for young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said vaping can cause harm to the respiratory system, including the heart and lungs.
Merle Green, who heads the Guilford County Public Health Department, said providers have noticed an uptick in vaping-related health issues.
“It seems like over the last six months, we have seen an increase in cases,” she said, “enough to where it has become an issue that is on our short list.”
Because vaping is so new, Swift said, the medical community is grappling with how to address the onslaught of cases.
“I think you should be very transparent with your medical providers, let them know what you’re using,” he said. “The doctors are seeing this; we’re sending out memos to clinicians – they’re coming out across the state.”
The e-cigarette industry has maintained that its marketing isn’t directed at kids, and also has launched its own public-relations campaign.