By Maria Gonzalez
Published in March 2020 in the Questa News (pg 22)

View the entire March 2020 Questa News Edition

E-Cigarettes are a hot topic around the nation right now and Taos County is no exception. E-cigarette use among youth has increased at an alarming rate. Reasons for this explosion is in part due to the lack of understanding about e-cigarettes and a misconception that they are safe.

Safer maybe, but that doesn’t mean safe, which is a common misconception by both youth and adults alike. Vida Del Norte has chosen to target e-cigarette use because of the high rate of use among our youth. Below is the data that has driven this concern. We have the highest rate of e-cig use in Taos County. Vida Del Norte views e-cigs as a gateway to other substances, and therefore we are choosing to utilize target strategies to prevent its use.

“How can e-cigs be a gateway?” you ask? Every vape juice on the market has a small percentage of nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that causes the brain and body to crave more, and over a period of time the body believes it needs the substance to function. This creates a behavioral change. If a child or adult opens the gateway to a habit that is detrimental to their health, once they cross that line, it is much easier to say yes to other harmful and more dangerous influences. That is the definition of a gateway drug and is especially concerning while working with our youth. The big e-cig companies have marketed and targeted our kids. This should be obvious with such vape juice flavors as bubble gum and other candy flavors.

Vida Del Norte is committed to address this epidemic that is taking our youth by storm and we are here to tell the big e-cig companies that they can’t have our kids. Below is data that was collected in 2015 and 2017; it shows the impact e-cigs and other substances have on our youth. Please take some time to look over the data and read some of the facts below and be looking out for some information coming on ways we look to combat this issue.

Here are some facts: Brought to us by our partners at Taos Alive

  • Scientists are still learning about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes.
  • Some of the ingredients in e-cigarette aerosol could also be harmful to the lungs in the long-term. For example, some e-cigarette flavorings may be safe to eat but not to inhale because the gut can process more substances than the lungs.
  • E-cigarette aerosol is NOT harmless “water vapor.”

• The e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe from the device and exhale can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including:

• Nicotine
• Ultra fine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
• Flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease
• Volatile organic compounds • Cancer-causing chemicals
• Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead
• Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain. The brain keeps developing until about age 25.
• Using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.
• Each time a new memory is created or a new skill is learned, stronger connections – or synapses – are built between brain cells. Young people’s brains build synapses faster than adult brains. Nicotine changes the way these synapses are formed.