Vaping is becoming an increasing epidemic among teenagers. According to research provided by the American Heart Association, in 2018, e-cigarette use nearly doubled in high school students.
A “vape” or electronic cigarette is a device that heats up a liquid to create a vapor you inhale. More specifically, vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that actually consists of fine particles. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to heart and respiratory diseases and cancer.
Some types of vaping devices include pens, e-cigarettes (like JUUL), and hookahs. E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that can deliver nicotine and flavorings to the user in the form of an aerosol. Most have a battery, a heating element, and a place to hold a liquid or nicotine salts. Vaping devices can vary in shape, size, and color. However, it is the JUUL that is the most rapidly growing type of e-cigarette.
The JUUL is particularly appealing to adolescents and young adults because it has a slim design shaped like a USB flash drive (which makes it easier to hide). Because it does not emit large smoke clouds, it is optimal for discreet use. However, not only is nicotine high in JUUL pods, but it is also present in a benzoic acid salt rather than a free base, which increases the rate of nicotine delivery and decreases the harsh sensation in the mouth and throat. It has been said that the JUUL nicotine refill (“pods”) contain as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are particularly unsafe for children, teens, and young adults for a multitude of reasons:
1.) Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain.
2.) E-cigarettes contain nicotine.
3.) Nicotine addiction that occurs with e-cigarette use may lead to transition of use of combustible tobacco products.
4.) Addiction itself, whether to nicotine or other drugs, can drive undesirable behaviors.
To combat this growing epidemic, parents are encouraged to do several things:
1.) Do not use any tobacco products.
2.) Talk with your children about the dangers of smoking and the importance of avoiding any tobacco use (conventional cigarettes or e-cigarettes).
3.) Educate your children that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance.
4.) Advocate for comprehensive tobacco prevention policies (that also include e-cigarettes).
Documents & Forms: Vaping
E-Cigarettes Shaped like USB Flash Drives
Talk with your Teens about E-Cigarettes: A tip sheet for Parents
Talking with your Teen about Vaping
Teen Vaping: DARE Parent Resource
The 101 on E-Cigarettes
Tips for Teens: E-Cigarettes
What you need to know about E-Cigarettes