The Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police (WASCOP) backs a warning issued by the U.S. Surgeon General’s office on the effects of vaping in youth.
In an email to city officials Feb. 28, WASCOP references a warning issued by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and the publication of a report ‘debunking’ public perceptions that vaping products, including e-cigarettes, are harmless.
Nicotine is the primary concern, with WASCOP referring to medical studies reportedly proving nicotine’s adverse effects on a youth’s developing brain such as reduced impulse control, deficits in attention and cognition, and mood disorders, as well as addiction.
A growing trend of vaping devices being used to vaporize THC is also a concern.
“Vaping THC does not produce the telltale smell that emerges when smoking marijuana through a joint, a blunt, or pipe,” WASCOP says. “Teens and young adults can use marijuana without being detected.”
According to WASCOP, THC is addictive and vaping, as opposed to smoking, marijuana can expose users to even higher concentrations, which means more exposure to the “drug’s mind-altering” ingredient.
However, the report and warnings that WASCOP refers to are notably vague.
“Although we continue to learn more about e-cigarettes with each passing day, we currently know enough to take action to protect our nation’s young people from being harmed by these products,” Murthy wrote in the report.
The report refers to two substances known to exist, or have existed, in vaping products: nicotine and diacetyl.
Nicotine, of course is the highly addictive compound found in modern day tobacco products.
Diacetyl is a compound reportedly linked to popcorn lung (bronchiolitis obliterans), a serious lung disease, and has been found in some vaping products. Primarily, it is used to provide an artificial “buttery” flavor.
According to Cancer Research UK, no good evidence exists that forms a connection between e-cigarettes and popcorn lung, though some media outlets, such as the Daily Mail, have reported otherwise.
The idea that e-cigarettes cause popcorn lung reportedly originated in a series of studies published around 2015, which found that a number of e-liquids on the market did contain varying levels of diacetyl.
Diacetyl has long been considered a safe food flavoring and is used to give microwave popcorn its buttery taste. However, the compound was implicated when eight popcorn workers developed popcorn lung after inhaling it.
When diacetyl was found in e-liquids, the connection was formed.
To date, whether or not popcorn lung and vaping are linked remains under debate.
According to the report, levels of formaldehyde, a carcinogen, were detected in e-juice once they heated to extreme temperatures. But at the same time, the report advises that it is not likely “vapers” would actually heat their e-juice to such high levels.
Other toxins and “volatile organic compounds,” allegedly found in vaping products and are grounds for concern, are not identified.
In the end, the report advises that little is known about inhaling these substances into the lungs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.