The Alabama Department of Public Health awarded an $80,000 grant to Children’s of Alabama and UAB Pediatrics to protect children from the harmful effects of tobacco use and vaping.
The money is intended to go towards programs preventing young people from smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. The two hospital systems will provide education to middle and high school students in Birmingham City.
According to the CDC, Alabama has a high rate of teen tobacco use with one in four high school students using some form of tobacco substance. Secondhand smoke is a problem among kids as a result of the high smoking rate in teens. The education programs funded by the grant will also cover the dangers of electronic cigarettes, which are the most commonly used nicotine-delivery system used by teenagers today.
“I am very concerned about the potential for electronic cigarettes to addict a whole generation of youth to nicotine and tobacco,” said Dr. Susan Walley, professor at UAB and doctor at Children’s of Alabama. “Electronic cigarettes also pose health risks to children from the secondhand aerosol, which is not merely ‘harmless water vapor,’ and is a poisoning risk from the concentrated electronic cigarette nicotine solution.”
Smoking is known to cause lung cancer, heart disease, and many other serious health problems including blindness. Research shows that smoking even doubles the risk of conditions like age-related macular degeneration, which affects one’s eyesight.
The dangers of electronic cigarettes are not limited to toxic exposure. A 14-year-old boy in New York is now blind in one eye after an e-cigarette exploded while he was trying it at a mall kiosk. Leor Domatov’s left cornea was cut in the accident, and he has suffered serious and potentially permanent injuries to his hands as well as his eyes.
“The guy was showing me different products of the vaporizers. While he was showing me, he connected one of the vaporizers to the battery of the store. He gave it to me to hold and when I was holding it, it exploded in my hands and face,” Leor told local station KPIX.
The mall kiosk is now under investigation as it is illegal to sell these products to minors.