Vaping is a growing public health concern introduced to the U.S. market in 2007. With the rise of e-cigarettes, vaping devices have risen in popularity over the last decade. Initially viewed as a useful tool to help cigarette smokers kick the habit, the dangers of vaping have become more evident as studies shed light on their effects. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, vaping amongst teens has become an epidemic. 3.6 million middle and high school students have used e-cigarettes, leading entire communities to come together in the fight to stop young adults from vaping.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 12 of every 100 high schoolers have vaped in the past month. While prevention is the best form of attack on this pressing concern for parents in the U.S., some teens are already addicted to vaping. So, how can parents get ahold of this addiction before it’s too late? Let’s take a closer look at the dangers of vaping and explore some helpful tips on how to stop your teens from vaping if it’s already become a habit.
The Dangers of Vaping
E-cigarettes came crashing into the mass market in 2007 advertised as a less harmful option for adults addicted to nicotine. Unfortunately, powerful marketing strategies and the enticing array of flavored e-liquids set a trend that’s made vaping popular with teens and young adults. Long-term studies aren’t currently available on the direct effects of vaping. Still, medical professionals and drug prevention organizations suggest the habit causes several ill-effects on the body.
Vaping involves the inhaling and exhaling of an aerosol that’s produced using a vaping device. As vaping has grown in popularity, so have the types of devices used with e-liquids. These include:
- Vape pens
- Tank systems
While each product is different, the general concept consists of a cartridge to hold the e-liquid, a heating element, a mouthpiece to inhale, and, in some cases, a battery. Just as the types of vapes have evolved as the behavior gained popularity, so has the substances vaped. E-liquids come in pre-filled pods or cartridges and small bottles. Flavored e-liquids come in fun and tempting flavors with everything from grape and cotton candy to hot dogs and other food flavors. The popular Juul vape device delivers 59 mg/ml of nicotine in each pod. This amount is the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes. Some e-liquids even contain marijuana by adding THC or CBD oil to the mix.
The most concerning issue with vape use amongst teens and young adults is the fact that their brains are still developing. A report published by Congress through the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2018 provided the following insight on the effects of vaping on teens and young adults:
- The exposure to nicotine through vaping devices is highly addictive and worrisome in teens and young adults. Since the brain undergoes massive changes during the teen years, the effects of nicotine use are alarming. Nicotine use can rewire the brain, causing problems with concentration, learning, and impulse control. Additionally, nicotine is known to be a gateway to the use of other drugs and addictive substances.
- Vape devices release several potentially toxic substances into the body.
- As teens and young adults become dependent on e-liquids, they can experience withdrawal symptoms as they try to kick the habit.
- Vaping increases the risk of smoking in teens and young adults, making them four times as likely to smoke.
- Injuries and poisoning have resulted from exploding vape devices and direct exposure to e-liquid.
- Long-term studies are not available to indicate the risk of cancer and respiratory illness amongst vape users.
In addition to the study mentioned above, the CDC reports that vaping marijuana can lead to the following issues in teens and young adults:
- Difficulty with critical thinking skills such as attention, problem-solving, and memory
- Impaired reaction time and issues with coordination
- A decline in school performance
- An increased risk of mental health problems like anxiety and depression
- In some cases, psychosis may occur
How to Prevent Teens from Vaping
Vaping came onto the market unregulated. As scientists and health experts were scrambling to understand the risk associated with a wide range of products, many kids had already become addicted to vaping. Over the past decade, the FDA has been able to place restrictions on vaping. Addiction, however, is still a prominent issue in many communities. Prevention is the best method of defense for parents fighting to keep their teens and young adults away from vaping. Prevent teens from vaping with these tips:
- Educate yourself. Many anti-drug initiatives have vaping guides available free of charge. Parents should learn as much as they can about vaping devices, what’s being vaped, and the risks involved. Learn everything you need to know about vaping through a guide like this one from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
- Have a conversation. Talk to your children about the adverse effects of vaping. Listen as much as possible. Try not to lecture as this will push some kids towards vaping. Create a conversation with open-ended questions like “what do you think about vaping?” Use TV ads, billboards, letters from school districts, and other community resources to aid in your discussion.
- Prepare for peer pressure. Talk to your kids about ways they can say no.
- Set a good example. If you smoke or vape yourself, do your best to quit. If you can’t stop, commit to not smoking in front of your children.
- Create a smoke-free home. Don’t allow friends or family to smoke or vape in your home.
- Set clear expectations. While the teen years can be particularly tricky to navigate, it’s essential to set rules when it comes to vaping and smoking. Say no and stick to it.
In addition to your prevention efforts, many communities have joined the fight. Community prevention efforts include:
- Raising prices on e-liquids, vaping devices, and nicotine products
- Restricted access to vaping products with some states banning them altogether
- Limited marketing with fines against companies that target teens and young adults in their ads
- Media campaigns, billboards, TV commercials, and other anti-vaping advertisements
- School programs identifying the dangers of vaping
5 Tips to Help Teens Quit Vaping
If you know or suspect that your teen is vaping, it’s critical to help them quit. Although the science of quitting is not yet available, many health experts feel that most teens can quit cold turkey. These five tips can help you help your teen quit as soon as possible:
- Reason with your child. Have an honest discussion about the effects of vaping and how this type of addiction can lead to other substance abuse. Help them recognize the dangers and show them tangible research on nicotine addiction.
- Be present. Vaping is much easier to hide than smoking. That’s because there’s not a lingering odor associated with vaping. Be present in your child’s life. Pay attention to their behaviors. Know their schedule, their likes and dislikes, and their friends. The more present you are, the more likely you will be to notice your child’s e-liquid use.
- Talk, don’t punish. If you do find that your child is vaping, support them. Parental support is instrumental in helping teens, and young adults kick the habit. Have an open conversation about why you don’t want them vaping. Be a resource, so they don’t just agree with you and continue to hide their habit. Bring in peer support where you can.
- Appeal to their desire for independence. It’s a well-known fact that the vaping industry manipulates teens and young adults by using aggressive marketing tactics that appeal to them. Explain this to your child. Explain that the vaping industry wants them to get hooked so they can make money off of them. Empower them to take control and win back their health.
- Equip them with support and resources. The Truth Initiative is an excellent resource for teens and young adults trying to quit. By texting QUIT to (202) 804-9884, your teen will get daily texts supporting them in their journey. They can set a quit date goal and get resources and assistance through texts of encouragement and tips and tools.
When to Visit a Medical Center Near Me
If you’re worried about your child’s vape use, it’s crucial to get support. Reach out to your child’s pediatrician or find a local medical center where you can talk to a health expert. In some cases, vaping emergencies occur. If you have any concerns about your child’s health as a result of vaping, stop by our facility. We provide emergency medical care around the clock and offer urgent care hours from 7 AM to 8 PM 7 days a week. With essentially no wait time to be treated and an experienced team of certified medical professionals, you’ll get the peace of mind knowing your child is treated with compassion and understanding. Give us a call at (214) 407-8668 or visit us online to book an appointment.