What Parents Need to Know About Vaping
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, smoking electronic cigarettes or “vaping” is popular among teens and is now the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in the United States.
Sixty-six percent of teens think that electronic cigarettes consists of only flavoring. (Wrong.) Parents, arm yourself with solid information to support having a healthy conversation with kids.
What is vaping?
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol, which typically contains nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals, through battery-operated devices called electronic cigarettes. Along with “vaping,” the term “juuling” (pronounced jeweling) is commonly used by teens and young adults.
An electronic cigarette can look like a regular cigarette, cigar or pipe, as well as a USB stick or small phone. The devices are known by many names, including:
- e-cigarettes (e-cigs)
When a person inhales the electronic cigarette, a sensor triggers the battery to heat up a coil of wire also known as the atomizer. The heat given off by the coil is transferred to a liquid (e-liquid), which is vaporized, and this is what users inhale. When they exhale, it may look like smoke, but it is actually vapor.
Why is vaping popular?
Vaping is seen as less harmful than smoking regular cigarettes. A variety of enticing flavors are offered, ranging from bubble gum to hot dog flavors. In addition, teens are increasingly participating in “cloud competitions,” where they compete to win money or bragging rights with the best vaping tricks (i.e. exhaling smoke rings).
What are the health effects of vaping?
Nicotine, which is inhaled while vaping, is an addictive drug. In young adults, nicotine can affect brain development related to attention and learning. Other risks include mood disorders and inability to fight impulses that may harm oneself or others.
The added chemicals also affect the lungs and can cause disease and breathing problems. Teens using electronic cigarettes are more likely to start smoking other tobacco products including cigarettes, which are also known to cause death and disease.
What are the signs of vaping?
- Lower caffeine intake.
- Dehydration and/or nose bleeds.
- Changes in appearance and/or behavior.
- Electronic cigarette packaging or online purchases.
- The smell of unusual scents, such as chocolate cake, when these items are not around.
- Use of lingo, such as “atty” (atomizer) in conversation, text messages or on social media.
What can parents do to prevent vaping?
It is important to find opportunities to discuss and educate them about the topic. Listen to their thoughts, thoroughly explain the long-term effects and reinforce healthy lifestyle choices by being a good role model. It may also help them to hear the risks from a medical professional. To talk to an expert, call 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669).