Vape is an electronic device that simulates tobacco smoking by vaporizing liquid that contains nicotine and other chemicals. The device heats and cools the liquid to produce the vapor that people inhale. The liquid can also contain flavors, which appeal to kids. Vapes are small and discreet, making them easy for teens to hide at school and home. They are often used in rooms where smoking is not allowed, like bedrooms and bathrooms.
The FDA has begun to crack down on the industry, banning certain flavors and ordering manufacturers to apply for approval to continue selling their products. But many companies saw a loophole in the law and jumped on it. They began stamping their devices with fruit, dessert and candy flavors that are marketed to teenagers. The survey found that 85 percent of adolescent e-cigarette users reported using their favorite flavor. The brands most mentioned included PuffBar, Vuse and Juul.
Nicotine is addictive, and adolescent brains are still developing, so they can have difficulty quitting. The use of e-cigarettes can also lead to other illicit drug use.
E-cigarettes can cause lung damage. One pod of a popular brand contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes, and can leave the lungs with scarring. Chemicals in the vapor can also harm the heart and lungs, and can irritate sensitive tissues. One chemical in particular, called diacetyl, can cause a serious lung disease known as popcorn lung. This disease can cause shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain.
One of the biggest risks with e-cigarettes is that they can encourage kids and teens to smoke real cigarettes. The flavorings, colorants and added chemicals in e-cigarettes can attract teens who would not have otherwise smoked.
A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that high school students who use e-cigarettes are more likely to be smokers as adults. It is important that parents talk to their children about the dangers of e-cigarettes and help them quit if they do start vaping.
The most effective way to prevent addiction is not to begin vaping in the first place. If your teen does vape, make sure to get care from an addiction specialist.
Parents can start the conversation with their teen by asking them if other teens at their school vape and how they feel about it. It can be difficult to have a hard talk, but starting with a general discussion will help them open up and listen.
The FDA has a number of resources to help families and educators talk about vaping with teens. It also has a tobacco education resource library with age-appropriate and standards-mapped materials that teachers can use to teach their students about the dangers of vaping. To learn more, visit the FDA’s website. You can also call the Tobacco Free helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. This service is free and confidential, and is available 24/7. You can speak to a trained specialist who will answer your questions and provide tips to quit.