Plain Talk About Vaping: Critical Information for Parents

  • Recent vaping-related deaths across the United States and the spread and convenience of smaller vaping devices have made vaping a topic on the minds of many parents. Vaping can be defined as inhaling and exhaling of an aerosol product from an e-cigarette or like device. Often mistaken for harmless water vapor, e-liquid is actually a mixture of chemicals that is intended to deliver nicotine or other drugs and toxic particles in a variety of flavors. The resulting vapor produces a host of physical effects and poses numerous health risks.

    The popularity and prevalence of vaping has exploded in recent years.

    • Vaping is the most popular form of tobacco use among teens, with 1 in 5 teens across the United States reporting their own use.
    • In a 2018 national study, researchers recorded a 78% increase among high school students and a 58% increase among middle schoolers in vaping device usage in just one year.

    Many types of vaping devices exist in an increasing variety of sizes and styles, making them hard for parents and teachers to detect.

    • Devices can be marketed as e-cigs, e-Hookas, mods, vape pens, vapes, tank systems, and Juuls.
    • Ranging in size from nearly as large as a cell phone to as small as a USB drive, these devices utilize refillable tanks or small cartridges which are reusable or completely disposable and easy to hide.

    The contents of the chemicals in vaping devices vary widely.

    • Despite common teen misconceptions about their safety, e-liquids often contain varying amounts of nicotine.  For example, a single Juul cartridge holds two times the nicotine of a pack of cigarettes.
    • E-liquids can contain the cannabis products THC and CBD  as well as other drugs which are hard to detect.

    The negative health effects of vaping for teens are numerous and still not fully understood.

    • Nicotine is highly addictive and, along with marijuana, can have many negative effects on the developing brains of teens.  Negative effects include problems with concentration, learning, impulse control, reaction time, coordination, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
    • Vaping-associated lung illness have risen to 1,080 in the United States with 19 reported deaths.

    What can parents do to prevent their children from falling prey to vaping?

    • Be on the lookout for vaping equipment in clothing, purses, etc. as well as unexplained odors or scents. The physical effects of vaping include thirst, nosebleeds, caffeine sensitivity, or shifts in mood and behavior. 
    • Have frank conversations with your children to discuss the dangers of vaping and share possible legal and school-related consequences.