According to the El Paso Board of County Health, the number of teens using e-cigarettes or vape pens is being considered a public health crisis.
Back in 2014, The City of El Paso passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of e-cigs in the same places regular cigarettes were banned, but that hasn’t stopped many at all; especially teens.
“It’s a new world you know, so we need to keep an eye on this type of devices and products,” The Founding Dean of UTEP’s School of Pharmacy Dr. Jose Rivera told KTSM.
Those devices and products lead the vaping phenomenon to rise in popularity among youth, not just here in the Borderland but Nationwide.
“The devices seem to be attractive to the young people because they seem to be cool for them and especially the Juul. This device that looks like a USB has become probably the number one product right now in the U.S. in terms of sales to teenagers,” Dr. Rivera shared.
Dr. Rivera also told KTSM work is being done in partnership with Paso Del Norte Health Foundation as part of the “Smoke Free Initiative.” These efforts are to eliminate tobacco use in the region, or at least raising the age limit to purchase e-cigarettes to 21.
“The brain of a teenager is more susceptible to addiction. So the more we can push the age where they can start smoking, the better it is in terms of the potential addiction to nicotine,” Dr. Rivera said.
As the research continues, Dr. Rivera shared there are still many unknown things about e-cig cartridges, and considered the danger of e-cigs to be as harmful as cigarettes.
“These products are not all the same. So they may have different ingredients in it and different flavors, different compounds, so there’s still a lot of unknown in terms of the long term effects but we do know if they have nicotine you’re going to become addicted. No matter what,” Dr. Rivera explained.
There is continuing research as well as social media campaigns aimed at teens to eliminate smoking.