Vaping is relatively new and most parents and teachers are oblivious to it. “Tobacco use among middle and high school students has been steadily decreasing since 2014. However, since the introduction of the e-cigarette, that number is now increasing, and it is estimated that one in five high school students may now be using tobacco products. E-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018 increased 78% among high school students and 48% among middle school students. According to statistics, Black students are the least likely to use or continue to use e-cigarettes or to vape but the numbers are rising.
We’re going to cover the facts so that you know what to look for and how to help your teen.
- Vaping is a device that uses nicotine, marijuana, or flavoring.
- Vape pens come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. It can look like a pen, a USB flash drive/thumb drive, or a big eraser. Many vape pens plugin and recharge via USB in a computer port, making it easy for you to mistake it for a computer flash drive.
- Vape pens and e-cigarettes work by heating a liquid to generate an aerosol that the user inhales.
- Teens who take the cover off of the pen, to “drip,” meaning dripping the vaping liquid directly on the coils to get a better smoke cloud are putting themselves at risk of inhaling even more powerful and harmful chemicals. “Allowing the liquid to get super hot can transform harmless chemicals in the e-liquid into toxic ones. (Note: At least one recent study showed that the hotter the vaped liquid became, the more likely it was to undergo such a toxic transformation.) And dripping makes this super-heating likely. Some people even use attachments, called atomizers, to do this more effectively.” According to ScienceNewsForStudents.org, one out of four student vapors in their study had tried dripping.
- It basically has no smell and is difficult to detect. JUUL (pronounced “jewel”) vapor smells sweet and is hard to distinguish and it dissipates so quickly that teens can smoke in school and home and mostly avoid detection.
- The most popular vape pen amongst teens is the “JUUL” vape pen, an e-cigarette that comes with a vaporizer and pre-filled containers of nicotine liquid is soaring in popularity.”
- Teens vaping nicotine via the JUUL will receive twice the amount of nicotine that is in a cigarette making it highly addictive. Many students who are addicted, can’t get through the school day without vaping.
- The device is unique among e-cigs in that it contains twice the nicotine of comparable devices. Its makers have acknowledged that factor may have played a role in the JUUL’s rapid success: it generated $224 million in retail sales from November 2016 to November 2017 and snagged a third of the total e-cig market share. As of February 2018, it now accounts for over 50% of e-cig market.
- According to ParentsAgainstVaping.org, young people appear to be especially drawn to the device, which is discrete enough to hide and boasts candy-like flavors.
- The JUUL vape pen appears to have a loyal and growing following among young people, who brag on social media about sneaking puffs in classrooms or school bathrooms.
- A growing list of experts are concerned that the JUUL targets young people, whose brains are especially vulnerable to nicotine and addiction.
Side Effects of Vaping
Vaping is still relatively new and the long term effects are unknown. Because the long term effects are unknown doesn’t mean that e-cigarettes and vaping are safe.
Dental Caries and Gum Disease
One of the side effects that dentists are seeing is the increase in cavities and receding gums which can lead to tooth loss. Compared to traditional tobacco use, e-cigarettes may be as dangerous to oral health, if not more dangerous.
Oral and Throat Damage
Vape liquid contains cancer-causing substances and many users complain of oral sores and mouth bleeding that are slow to heal.
According to the American Lung Association, using electronic cigarettes or vaping, particularly the flavored varieties, can cause popcorn lung. Once the dangers associated with diacetyl were discovered in the early 2000s, the majority of popcorn producers stopped using the chemical. While treatments exist to limit and manage symptoms, currently there is no cure for popcorn lung, and it is considered life-threatening.
Chronic bronchitis is often referred to as “smoker’s cough.” In a study, recent vapers were about twice as likely to have chronic bronchitis as were kids who had never vaped, the researchers report. Students who had vaped in the past, but not in the last month, also were about as likely as current vapers to have chronic bronchitis.
Cancer and Heart Disease
E-cigarette users are possibly putting themselves at risk for developing heart disease, lung and bladder cancers, according to a new report.
Some e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. It can also affect a teen’s mood and focus leading to problems at school and failing grades.
Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
We know from psychology that the adolescent can only think as far as the here and now and not about any long term repercussions that may come from vaping in their future. Peer pressure can pull your child into this epidemic. Parents have to educate their teens on the long-term effects and possible addictions that can occur. Go to ParentsAgainstVaping.org for more information.