Why Tar Wars?
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. Nearly all tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes, begins during youth and young adulthood and can cause addiction and harmful effects including on brain development, which continues to age 25. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the nicotine in e-cigarette vapes and other tobacco products can affect the development of the brain’s reward system, priming the adolescent brain for addiction to other drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine.
Vaping product companies are alluring youth as their target market, create appealing flavors and offer vaping devices in various shapes and sizes with one of the most popular being pod-based, modeled after a USB drive. Tar Wars has adapted and expanded its curriculum to help assist teachers and school nurses shift the Surgeon General statistic that six out of 10 youth believe that occasional use of e-cigarettes causes only little or some harm.
Many youth surveyed are completely unaware of the true cost of the short and long-term health risks and consequences. E-cigarettes contain a number of harmful and potentially harmful and cancer-causing ingredients, including heavy metals and chemicals such as diacetyl, which are linked to lung disease.
Short-term health effects of vaping noted by researchers in recent years include:
- Rapid deterioration of vascular function
- Negative effect on the immune system
- Significant impairment of the respiratory system and cardiovascular function including an elevated heart rate and diastolic blood pressure
School nurses know e-cigarette use is surging among middle and high school students
Adolescents may start using e-cigarettes because they believe they are harmless. Nicotine, a key ingredient in tobacco products, is an addictive drug. Tobacco use by and around children and adolescents is a particular concern due to increased risk for addiction and passive exposure. Smoking is a known cause of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Young people who use e-cigarettes, such as the popular JUUL brand, are more likely to transition to combustible cigarettes.
From the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Public health consequences of e-cigarettes. Consensus study report