Parent Alert | July 2020

What You Should Know About Vaping
Because “All My Friends Are Doing It”

What is it again?

The term “e-cigarette” is technically a catch-all that includes any battery-operated model that heats its liquid contents. However, often people use “e-cigarette” to refer to a battery-powered tobacco product that’s made to look like traditional cigarettes (hence the nickname “cig-alikes”). They can be disposable or rechargeable. Cig-alikes were the first electronic cigarette model, are typically simple in design (no buttons), and sometimes contain cartridges that the user refills.

A vape, or vaporizer, comes in various models (pen, mod, pod). In general, they are more complex than cig-alikes because they have buttons, flavor options, and stronger output. When you hear “Juul,” you can think of it in this category. “Vaping” can refer to using e-cigs or vapes and simply describes the method by which the substance enters the lungs.

Despite ads claiming that vaping is the safe alternative to smoking, a vape can contain as much nicotine as 1 to 2 packs of traditional cigarettes. It is also possible to vape other substances such as cannabis and alcohol. The liquid inside isn’t actually converted to vapor; it becomes aerosol. Vaping can be highly addictive and increases a person’s risk of Substance Use Disorder and other health problems, especially if the user is under 21.

Where do they get the products?

While it’s unfortunately possible for youth to purchase vaping devices, many teens borrow from friends who are either old enough to buy tobacco products or who acquired them some other way.

Because many of the more modern versions such as Juul are small and sleek (like a USB or iPod), it is easier for youth to conceal them.

The images used above are in public domain. They can be found at:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Reducing Vaping Among Youth and Young Adults. SAMHSA Publication No. PEP20-06-01-003. Rockville, MD: National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2020.

Is it really that serious?

E-cigs and gum disease: “The present study questions the safety of e-cigarettes and the harm reduction narrative promoted by advertising campaigns.”
Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products
“Vaping causes harm to the lungs, leaving lung tissue inflamed, fragile and susceptible to infection…Tobacco [harms] the immune system and airway lining cells that contain cilia on their surface, which are our essential defenders against viruses like COVID-19. Without them working properly, the lungs are more vulnerable.”
For detailed information on types of e-cigarettes, risks for children in the home, prevention tips, and more, visit the CDC’s website here.
Did You Know?Having conversations with your kids and teens about race can actually help prevent substance abuse.

If they use the wrong terminology, even unintentionally, it may intensify someone’s feelings of loneliness and depression, two of the biggest triggers of substance use.

To help facilitate these conversations, see Prevention Action Alliance’s list of racial terms.

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