Teens and Vaping: What You Need to Know

March 30, 2020

blog: teens and vaping

If you have a teen, you might already know about the dangers of e-cigarette use, which is also known as vaping. The U.S. is in the middle of something of a crisis when it comes to teens and vaping. Because March 30 – April 3 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, now is the perfect time to get the facts. Use this brief guide to learn about teens and vaping so you can be prepared to talk to your child about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

What is Vaping?

When we talk about vaping, we’re talking about using e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are electronic devices that deliver nicotine by heating a liquid that contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. E-cigarette use is often referred to as vaping. This is because e-cigarettes produce an aerosol or vapor. The user inhales the aerosol into their lungs to absorb the nicotine.

Teens and adults who vape often call the nicotine liquid “vape juice,” but it may often be called “vape liquid,” “e-juice,” or “e-liquid.” E-cigarettes can look different depending on the type and brand. They can look like regular cigarettes, asthma inhalers, pipes, pens, or even flash drives. Teens may also refer to e-cigarettes by a number of names including:

  • E-cigs
  • E-hookahs
  • Mods
  • Vape pens
  • Vapes
  • A brand name, such as JUUL (pronounced like “jewel”)

Facts About Teens and Vaping

When it comes to teens and vaping, there are many facts to be aware of:

  • According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), over 5 million youth are currently using e-cigarettes. 
    • 1.6 million youth use e-cigarettes more than 20 times per month.
    • Almost one million of them use an e-cigarette daily.
  • E-juice comes in a lot of flavors that are attractive to young people. Fruit flavors and candy flavors are popular among kids and teens.
  • The more teens vape, the more addicted they become. This makes quitting more difficult.
  • A majority of teens using e-cigarettes use the JUUL brand.
    • JUUL e-cigarettes are attractive to teens because of the attractive and simple design. They look like a lot of trendy electronic devices.
    • JUUL devices use vape liquid pods that have twice the nicotine of most other vapes
    • JUULs are easily concealed so teens find them easy to use even in public places without being noticed.
  • Kids and teens can order vape juice on the internet because not all online retailers require proof of age.

The Dangers of Vaping

Most vape liquid contains nicotine, which is the addictive drug found in regular cigarettes and tobacco products. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 99% of e-cigarettes contain nicotine even if they do not disclose that fact. Not only is nicotine highly addictive, but it can also be harmful to the human brain, especially an adolescent brain that is still developing.

The risks of vaping for teens include:

  • Nicotine can harm the parts of the brain responsible for learning, mood, attention, and impulse control. Those parts of the teen brain are still developing, making teens more vulnerable.
  • Nicotine changes the way the synapses of the brain are formed. Synapses are the connections built between brain cells that allow the brain to learn and retain memories.
  • If a teen uses nicotine, they are more likely to become addicted to other drugs.
  • Vaping as a teen may lead to cigarette smoking later on.

Little is known about the safety of inhaling aerosol from an e-cigarette. One thing that has been discovered about teens and vaping is that they often think that they’re inhaling water vapor, which is harmless. This is untrue. Along with nicotine, vape aerosol may contain harmful or poisonous substances like heavy metals, chemicals linked to lung disease, and cancer-causing chemicals.

Preventing Vaping in Teens

The bottom line is that teens and vaping are a bad combination. As a parent, you want your child to be happy and healthy, so preventing them from vaping can be a big concern. There are some systemic changes the government and private businesses can make to prevent kids and teens from vaping. They include:

  • Raising the price of e-cigarettes and e-liquid
  • Restricting access to e-cigarettes and vape juice
  • Limiting marketing around e-cigarettes

As a parent, your best bet for preventing your child from vaping is to pay attention to their behavior and spending habits. Talk often about the dangers of vaping and peer pressure. Lay down strict rules about tobacco use, and let them know the rules apply to e-cigarettes. Set a good example by having a smoke and vape-free home.

At Holly Springs Pediatrics, we focus on providing comprehensive care for kids, teens, and young adults. This includes helping educate them on the dangers of substance use. If you have questions about your child’s health, call Holly Springs Pediatrics at (919) 249-4700 to schedule an appointment.