E-Cigarettes are on the rise among teenagers
According to research, in 2015, more than a quarter of students in grades 6-12 have tried e-cigarettes. Local schools are warning parents of a growing trend of teens engaging in “vaping,” or the use of e-cigarettes. As the use of traditional cigarettes has fallen, the popularity of other nicotine products, including e-cigarettes has dramatically increased.
According to the Surgeon General, adolescent years are times of important brain development. Brain development begins during the growth of the fetus in the womb and continues through childhood and to about age 25. Nicotine exposure during adolescence and young adulthood can cause addiction and harm the developing brain.
Here are some things parents need to know.
What is an e-cigarette?
An e-cigarette is a handheld battery-operated device that is used to inhale an aerosol which often contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. E-cigarette devices vary and may look like a real cigarette, a pen, or a small rectangular device similar to a cigarette lighter.
How does an e-cigarette work?
E-cigarettes use a battery to heat liquid into a vapor for inhalation. Aside from nicotine, e-cigarettes can be used to deliver cannabinoids such as marijuana, and other substances including alcohol.
According to statistics, 85 percent of teen e-cigarette users prefer flavored vaping. The most common flavors are menthol, alcohol, candy, fruit, chocolate, and sweets.
E-cigarettes are often difficult to detect because the vapor dissipates quickly and there may be no discernible aroma.
Why are e-cigarettes dangerous?
A 2016 study published in the Pediatrics journal reported that teens who never smoked traditional cigarettes but used e-cigarettes are six times more likely to begin smoking combustible cigarettes compared to those who do not use e-cigarettes. More than 60 percent of teens believe that occasional use of e-cigarettes causes only little or some harm.
The human brain is still developing until around the age of 25. Therefore, teens who vape are at risk for stronger learned addictive behavior.
E-cigarettes may contain nicotine, ultra-fine particles, benzine, and heavy metals.
E-cigarette paraphernalia can be used to deliver other dangerous substances to teens such as marijuana and alcohol.
There are known mechanical issues with e-cigarette devices resulting in serious body harm.
What can parents do?
Educators are encouraging parents to have a conversation with their children about the dangers e-cigarettes pose, as well as familiarizing yourself with such terms as vaping, Suorin, vape juice, and JUUL. Identifying the various types of vaping devices will also help your awareness of this issue.
The 2016 Surgeon General’s report on e-cigarette use among youth also provides valuable information. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/e-cigarettes/index.htm
Additional Resources features talking points to help facilitate a discussion with teens on the risks of vaping: https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/?s_cid=bb-osh-sgr2016-001