2019 National Prevention Week – Preventing Youth Tobacco Use

Vaping. E-cigs. JUUL. Vaporizer. E-cigarette. Vape pen.

These terms refer to the latest trend among teens and is the topic of day four for National Prevention Week. Many parents are aware of the vaping trend, but aren’t sure exactly what it is, what e-cigarettes look like, the dangers of teen vaping or what they can do about it.

What vaping is:

Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the chemical aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol that consists of fine particles.

Vaping appeals to teens because they’re discreet with minimal smell, easy to get and are available in a variety of flavors.

Nicotine, THC oil or waxes (the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s mind-altering affects and is 30-70 percent stronger than traditional marijuana) and synthetic marijuana can be smoked through e-cigarettes.

It’s illegal for minors to purchase e-cigarettes, but with the fast growth of the products, regulation has been difficult.

JUUL is the most well-known brand, and looks like a USB flash drive. Other e-cigarettes look like pens and some even look like an asthma inhaler.

How many teens are vaping:

The increase in e-cigarette use was the largest one-year spike of any kind in the 44 years that substance abuse by young people has been tracked by the Monitoring the Future survey.

Vaping and marijuana use are now more common among teens than cigarette smoking, with nearly 1 in 3 12th graders having vaped in the last year. The survey also found that 13.1 percent of 12th graders had vaped marijuana or hash oil in the past year.

The study went on to say that when 12th-graders were asked what they believed was in the vaping mist, more than half (51.8%) said “just flavoring,” even though the devices are most often sold with nicotine.

Dangers of teen vaping:

Since the brain doesn’t finish developing until the mid-twenties, vaping has consequences on teens that are different than older adults.

In addition to increased use of traditional cigarettes after vape initiation, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that nearly 1 in 3 high school students who use e-cigarettes have already vaped marijuana. For middle school students, the rate is 1 in 4.

In addition to increased risk of substance abuse, vaping marijuana can hijack the teen brain during a critical time of development.

Marijuana use among teens puts them at an increased risk for addiction, anxiety, depression and personality changes.

It’s important for parents to understand that substance abuse affects teens differently than a fully developed adult brain. Delaying substance use of any kind gives your child the best opportunity for optimal brain function.

What parents can do about teen vaping:

The first thing parents can do is to not purchase e-cigarettes for their teens and be on the lookout for any vaping paraphernalia at home. Do a quick google search for “types of vape pens” to get more of visual reference of what to look for.

One of the most important things can parents can do is to talk to their teens about the dangers of vaping.

Many parents believe that their teens don’t listen to them, but when we survey local students, they say that parental disapproval is the number one reason they choose not to abuse substances. Setting clear expectations against vaping will have the biggest impact on your teen’s decision.

In addition to the first talk where the expectation is set, look for good opportunities to have a discussion about vaping. You can do this when you see vaping in advertisements or in the car when passing a vape shop. Talking about it early and often is critical in preventing teen vaping.

If you teen does admit to vaping, or other substance abuse, look for what’s going on that may be causing them to self-medicate. Refer them to local counseling or treatment if necessary.