What is vaping/e-cigarettes, and why you should care as a parent/guardianAccording to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), e-cigarettes (electronic cigarette that uses a rechargable battery to heat a liquid into an aerosol to inhale and exhale) also known as “vapes,” are becoming increasingly popular among teens and certain types of vapes can be used and shared very discreetly. In the past year alone, vaping among high schoolers has increased by 78 percent.
One of the concerns is the growing misconception about what exactly is in an e-cigarette vape. Most e-cigarettes actually do contain nicotine, unlike what is often advertised. Nicotine is highly addictive and can be harmful to adolescent brain development, according to the FDA.
Parents/guardians may hear from their teens that e-cigarettes/vaping is harmless and a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. The fact is, the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes is definitely not just harmless “water vapor.” According to the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC), the liquid that produces the aerosol that is vaped can contain harmful chemicals, such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease, heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead, and other cancer-causing substances. Learn more about what is in a vape.
How to talk to your teenager about the dangers and consequences of e-cigarettes/vaping
According to a 2017 University of Michigan’s study, nearly one in three high school seniors tried vaping within the past year. It is also estimated that this trend will continue to grow. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids indicates that e-cigarette/vaping use has increased due to:
- A sense of curiosity and boredom, cited by many teenagers as reasons.
- Companies like Juul advertise their brightly colored devices and kid-oriented flavors, like bubble gum, cotton candy and grape, directly toward teens and young adults.
- Increase in interest in “cloud competitions,” where adults compete to perform the best vaping tricks and are featured on social media and at local vape shops, with some offering prize money.
- It can be habit-forming, much in the same way teens check their phones.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General and the CDC, e-cigarette use and vaping pose a significant – and avoidable – health risk to teens and young adolocents. It increases the possibility of addiction and long-term harm to brain development and respiratory health. E-cigarette use is also associated with the use of marijuana. Breathing e-cigarette aerosol that someone else has exhaled also poses potential health risks. Learn more.
And as a reminder, tobacco use is not permitted on school property, leading to potential disciplinary action for the student if caught. Read more.
Get informed, learn the facts and begin a conversation today with your teen about the dangers and consequences of vaping.
If you’re concerned about your student vaping, please contact your child’s school nurse or Cindy Hiltz, the district’s health services coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Video: April 16 chemical health event (full presentation) on anti-vaping.
- Videos: "The Real Cost" campaign (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA).
- Infographics/tip sheets: FDA and Scholastic Youth E-Cigarette Prevention Infographic.
Get the facts
- Know the Truth (The Prevention Program from Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge).
- Centers for Diesease Control and Prevention (CDC) Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults.
- Study Shows Big Rise in Teen Vaping This Year (New York Times, Dec. 17, 2018).
Additional links and resources:
- What You Need to Know And How to Talk With Your Kids About Vaping (Partnership For Drug-Free Kids).
- How to Help Teenagers Quit Vaping (New York Times, Dec. 18, 2018).
- Tobacco Cessation Resources for Youth.