What is Vaping?
Vaping is what people do with an e-cigarette, which is an electronic device that heats a liquid and produces an aerosol, that the user inhales into their lungs.
E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes and most have a battery, a heating element, and a place to hold liquid. They can look like cigarettes, cigars, pens, and even USB flash drives. Larger devices are often called tanks or mods.
Puff Bar is a brand of disposable e-cigarettes. These disposable styles, known as puff bars regardless of the brand name, have surged in popularity among teens because they are inexpensive, colorful, and easy to get.
JUUL is the US top-selling brand of e-cigarettes. They often look like a USB flash drive and their pods are known to contain as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.
E-liquid is often called e-juice or vape juice and it comes in a wide selection of colorful pods, cartridges, and bottles filled with the liquid. The liquid is made with propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin base, water, and added flavorings, and liquid nicotine. Additionally, depending on the liquid purchased, it can also contain marijuana (THC), other potentially harmful chemicals, and/or fine particles.
Flavoring is an additive that comes in over 7,000 flavors, including candy, fruit, mint, and coffee. It is very important to realize that vaping a "flavored only" e-liquid does not mean the flavoring is the only ingredient.
Liquid Nicotine is the addictive and toxic ingredient found in e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes. It is now well-established that under certain circumstances, e-cigarettes can deliver nicotine levels equivalent to or exceeding the levels commonly delivered by traditional cigarettes, like the high levels found in most JUUL pods and Puff Bars. Additionally, less than 3% of the e-liquids available on the market claim to be nicotine free.
THC is the addictive ingredient found in cannabis e-liquid and traditional marijuana products.
E-liquids with THC oil are usually mixed with chemical agents such as vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, MCT oil, or PEG 400, and some of these agents, alone, can pose serious health risks.
30% of high school students have vaped nicotine and 15% report vaping regularly within the last 30 days.
How is vaping harmful?
Although some argue it's still too early to tell the overall effects of vaping on our health, it is clear that like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes can lead to a number of serious health issues for the user and even for those around them.
One particular chemical, diacetyl, can be found in flavors like vanilla, maple, and coconut. When inhaled, this chemical can cause a serious, irreversible lung disease referred to as "popcorn lung". It scars the tiny air sacs in the lungs, narrowing the airways, and causing chronic coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Even the seemingly safe flavored water vapor can cause respiratory issues, pneumonia, and/or "wet lung" syndrome.
Some substances like propylene glycol, can break down when heated and become carcinogens (cancer-causing).
Explosions while recharging the devices, due to defective batteries, resulted in serious facial and upper torso burns to anyone near the exploding device.
Children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing, or absorbing e-cigarette liquids. Nationally, approximately 50% of calls to poison control centers for e-cigarettes are for kids 5 years of age or younger.
25% of high school students have vaped marijuana and 10% report vaping regularly within the last 30 days.
How Can I Tell My Teen is Vaping?
Desire for flavor
Cutting back on caffeine
Finding unfamiliar devices and/or spare parts
A change in sleep patterns
What Do I Say to My Teen About Vaping?
Talk, don’t yell; teach, don’t preach. Share the health risks and the fact that vaping is just the new way for old tobacco executives to get teens hooked on nicotine. Help them come up with ways they’ll feel comfortable saying no to their peers. If they’re already vaping, get them to help with quitting because it is an addiction, and beating it is not going to be easy.
Vaughn, Emily. "How to Talk to Teens About Vaping" 6 Oct. 2019. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/10/06/766971966/how-to-talk-to-teens-about-vaping Accessed 7 July 2021.
Burgert, Natasha, Dr. "How to Tell Your Kid is Vaping" 27 July 2018. https://health.usnews.com/wellness/for-parents/articles/2018-07-27/how-to-tell-if-your-kid-is-vaping Accessed 7 July 2021.
CDC. Smoking & Tobacco Use: "Quick Facts on the Risks of E-Cigarettes for Kids, Teens and Young Adults" https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick-Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html Accessed 16 Oct. 2020.
DeVito, Elise E, and Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin. “E-cigarettes: Impact of E-Liquid Components and Device Characteristics on Nicotine Exposure.” https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320496544_E-cigarettes_Impact_of_E-Liquid_Components_and_Device_Characteristics_on_Nicotine_Exposure Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
American Lung Association. "Popcorn Lung: A Dangerous Risk of E-cigarettes" 6 July 2016. https://www.lung.org/blog/popcorn-lung-risk-ecigs Accessed 16 Oct. 2020.
Blaha, Michael Joseph, MD. John Hopkins Medicine: "Vape Flavors and Vape Juice, What you Need to Know". https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/vape-flavors-and-vape-juice-what-you-need-to-know Accessed 16 Oct. 2020.