Health Myths About E-Cigarettes Cause Rising Popularity Among Teens

Teens know about the health risks when it comes to smoking cigarettes, but they may be less educated about e-cigarettes. Studies show these electronic vapor devices are gaining popularity among youths.

Health Myths About E-Cigarettes Cause Rising Popularity Among Teens

The tobacco industry has lost its hold on young teens, smoking is at an all-time low. But they may be getting it back through e-cigarette companies. Several recent studies reveal that e-cigarettes are attracting more teens, and it's misconceptions about the risks that could cause damaging, long-term effects.

E-cigarettes are battery-charged devices that deliver nicotine through vaporized liquid. The New York Time's Rachel Peachman reports that the vapor has hundreds of flavored options, including bubble gum and chocolate, which is helping to attract younger users that would be deterred by smoking's gross taste. The entire package makes it all seem like a safer delivery system (no smoke, so it must be ok), but e-cigarettes have their own set of health risks.

Nicotine is a neurotoxin that can have damaging effects on young, underdeveloped brains. Not to mention that a list of dangerous chemicals and metals have been found in e-cigarettes, such as lead and formaldehyde. Peachman reports that a lack of safety regulations by the US and oversights from manufacturers in China are the cause of these issues. But these concerns aren't reaching the youth, where e-cigarettes can pose the most damage.

A recent study released by the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future research group revealed that e-cigarette use has surpassed tobacco use. Each year the group surveys anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 students in 400 schools across America. The group is in its 40th year of study, monitoring drug trends among youngsters. Among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders e-cigs are twice as common as regular cigarette use.

When researchers asked kids if they used an e-cigarette in the last 30 days, 16 percent of 10th graders and 17 percent of 12th graders surveyed said yes. Richard Miech, Professor of Social Research at the University of Michigan, explained why more youths are adopting this new device:

“Part of the reason that e-cigarettes are so popular among youth is that they have a very low perceived health risk.”

The study reports only 15 percent of 8th graders think e-cigarettes are harmful, whereas 62 percent believe smoking tobacco cigarettes on a regular basis poses great risk to your health. Health advisers are battling a new delivery system of an addictive drug, which has little long-term study connected to it. Furthermore, Peachman reports in her article that one study published in the journal Pediatrics “raises the possibility that e-cigarettes are recruiting lower-risk adolescents who would otherwise be less susceptible to smoking,” according to Thomas A. Wills, lead author and co-director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the University of Hawaii.

Right now there's no federal regulation on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, however, some states have taken the initiative in banning its sale to under aged youths. But while the FDA and health administrators continue to debate the pros and cons of e-cigarettes, the industry has a head start to market how slick you'll look vaping. Health professionals must feel like they're back to square one.

Read more at the New York Times

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.


Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

Learn the Netflix model of high-performing teams

Erin Meyer explains the keeper test and how it can make or break a team.

  • There are numerous strategies for building and maintaining a high-performing team, but unfortunately they are not plug-and-play. What works for some companies will not necessarily work for others. Erin Meyer, co-author of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, shares one alternative employed by one of the largest tech and media services companies in the world.
  • Instead of the 'Rank and Yank' method once used by GE, Meyer explains how Netflix managers use the 'keeper test' to determine if employees are crucial pieces of the larger team and are worth fighting to keep.
  • "An individual performance problem is a systemic problem that impacts the entire team," she says. This is a valuable lesson that could determine whether the team fails or whether an organization advances to the next level.
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Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
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