top of page

The Facts About Teen Vaping

What Is Vaping?

Vaping refers to the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, or vapor, created by a vaping device. A vaping device includes a mouthpiece, a battery, a heating component, and a cartridge that contains the e-liquid or e-juice. The e-liquid is a combination of nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals.

The battery powers the heating component, which heats up the e-liquid, also known as vape juice. As a result, the device produces water vapor. Users inhale this vapor into their lungs.

Types of vaping devices include the following:

  • E-cigarettes, which resemble traditional cigarettes—also called e-cigarettes, e-cigs, hookah pens, vape pens, or ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems)

  • Advanced personal vaporizers (also known as “mods”), customized by the user

  • Vape pens, which look like large fountain pens.

The Appeal of Vaping for Teens

In fact, vaping appeals to teens in particular, according to experts. Here are some of the reasons why teens choose vaping vs. smoking.

Packaging and flavoring: Vape cartridges are available in candy, fruit, and dessert flavors, like doughnut, cotton candy, apple pie, chocolate, cherry, “Belgian waffle,” “strawberry milk,” watermelon, bubble gum, etc. And labels of “vape sauce” resemble candy wrapper designs, like Jolly Ranchers and Blow Pops.

Related promotion and merchandising: In addition, companies promote vaping with campaigns that appeal to teens, such as vaping cloud contests. Moreover, a line of hoodies and backpacks called Vaprwear is designed to conceal vaping devices.

Easier to hide: Moreover, vaping devices, such as electronic cigarettes, are harder for parents and teachers to detect. That’s because they don’t give off as much smoke as traditional cigarettes. Also, unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are odorless or have a sweet smell. Plus, vaping devices often resemble pens or thumb drives. Thus, it’s easier for teens to use them without getting caught.

Peer pressure: On social media, teens post photos and videos of themselves “Juuling,” with hashtags like #doitforjuul. As a result, these social media images give teens the idea that vaping is cool. And the frequency of vaping-related posts leads teens to believe that everyone is vaping. Hence, they’re more likely to try vaping themselves.

Accessibility: Furthermore, although vaping is illegal in most states for those under 18, teens can easily find ways to buy products online. Also, e-cigarettes cost less than traditional cigarettes.

Reduced health concerns: Many teens believe that vaping is less harmful than smoking.

Vaping Health Risks

Nicotine is the primary substance in both traditional and electronic cigarettes. And it is harmful to human health. Nicotine raises blood pressure and spikes adrenaline levels. As a result, it increases the user’s heart rate and their likelihood of having a heart attack.

Along with nicotine, vaping liquids contain additives such as propylene glycol and glycerol. These are toxic chemicals that have been linked to cancer, respiratory disease, and heart disease. Scientists have found that diacetyl, a chemical used to flavor some vape juice, may cause a condition called “popcorn lung,” the scarring and obstruction of the lungs’ smallest airways.

Furthermore, a study published in the journal Pediatrics in March found substantially increased levels of five carcinogenic compounds in the urine of teenagers who vape. Hence, cancer is one of the clear vaping health risks for teens. And researchers are only beginning to discover how vaping affects physical health over the long term.

What Parents Can Do About Teen Vaping

Parents can take steps to help prevent their kids from vaping. In particular, communication between parents and teens is key in supporting good choices and positive coping mechanisms. Here are some ways to protect teens from the dangers of vaping.

Watch for warning signs.

Because e-cigarettes do not have an odor, it’s harder to tell when teens are using them. However, there are other signs to watch for, including

  • Bloodshot eyes

  • Irritability caused by nicotine withdrawal

  • Increased thirst—dehydration is a common side effect of vaping as a result of the propylene glycol in e-liquid

  • Nosebleeds—propylene glycol also dries out the inside of the nose

  • Smoker’s cough

  • Avoiding caffeine—some e-cigarette users develop a sensitivity to caffeine

  • Unfamiliar batteries and chargers

  • Discarded Juul pods or atomizers—the component of the e-cigarette that turns the e-liquid into vapor

  • A sweet smell produced by scented flavorings

  • Pens that are unusual looking or larger than usual

  • Other vaping devices and products in a teen’s room.

Ask open-ended questions.

Avoid yes-no questions when talking with teens about vaping. Approach the conversation with caring and curiosity, not judgment. Ask teens what they’ve heard about vaping and what their peers think about it. Hence, you’ll get a sense of how much your teen knows about the topic.

If a teen admits to vaping, getting upset or angry won’t help. Teens need to know that their parents will be there for them even when they make unwise choices. Compassion is key.

Let them know about the dangers.

Make sure that teens understand the potential long-term consequences of vaping. For example, nicotine use can lead to high blood pressure, fatigue, and other health issues.

Moreover, teens need to know that vaping may create a lifelong addiction that impacts physical and mental health.

Set a good example.

Be a role model for teens, and walk the talk. If parents don’t want their teens to vape or smoke, they shouldn’t do so either. Teens will have a hard time believing that vaping is dangerous if they see adults doing it.

Get them the help they need.

If a teen wants to stop vaping, make sure they receive access to professional help for breaking the habit and dealing with the physical and emotional symptoms of withdrawal. A trained counselor can help teens learn how to quit vaping.

To summarize, teen vaping is common. And it threatens teens’ mental and physical health. Furthermore, it can lead to addiction and substance abuse.

Therefore, parents, healthcare providers, and policymakers need to take action now to reverse this harmful trend.

bottom of page