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Everything Parents Need to Know About The Dangers of Teen Vaping

October 20, 2019
By Kaitlyn Mercy

What is Vaping?

The act of vaping is similar to smoking, it involves inhaling and exhaling a liquid that is often referred to as “vapor”. Vaping was originally introduced as an aid for individuals who wanted to stop smoking cigarettes because they contain fewer chemicals than cigarettes. However, researchers at Yale all agree: vape devices have not been proven to help adult smokers quit smoking.

Since 2006, vaping has grown substantially in popularity, and while it is illegal for people under the age of 18 to own or use any type of vaping device, many teens own, borrow, and use them on a regular basis.

Devices used to vape include battery-powered e-cigarettes, vape pens, and “mods”. They are filled with a liquid, or “vapor”, that is commonly referred to as “juice”. This juice is largely unregulated, and in light of recent deaths and lung complications, the FDA has recently warned that everyone, not just youth and young adults, should avoid vaping until investigations and regulations can be put into place.

Why is it Dangerous?

Substance use of any kind is illegal and unacceptable for minors. It affects brain development, cognitive abilities, and can lead to mental health conditions and physical health problems later in life.

The brain is in developmental stages until the age of 25, and in the teen years, the prefrontal cortex is in critical stages of development. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision-making, problem-solving, and acting with long-term goals in mind, and can be highly affected by substance abuse.

While vaping may seem like a harmless thing for teens to engage in, new information about the dangers of vaping, especially for teens, is being released every day. According to the Surgeon General, between 2011 and 2015, there was a dramatic 900% increase among high school students using vapes.

Here are some of the risks and downsides of vaping that we are currently aware of:

  • High Nicotine Content
    Vaping is portrayed as a safe and more health-conscious approach to smoking. Packaging for vape and juice products is often very vague and even misleading. According to the Juul (an extremely popular vape brand) website, one pod of their juice is the equivalent to an entire package of cigarettes. The average user will go through a pod in 2-3 days.
  • Likelihood of Developing a Smoking Habit
    According to Dr. Miech, a researcher at the University of Michigan, vaping is rapidly increasing the number of teens and young adults who use nicotine. While vaping is often portrayed as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, the research shows that vaping is actually leading youth to use more nicotine, not away from it.
  • Risk of Addiction
    Nicotine is extremely addictive in both teens and adults, but since teen’s brains are still developing, they are more likely to fall victim to using drugs and alcohol, and becoming addicted.
  • Lung & Respiratory System Issues
    According to recent studies performed by researchers in the United Kingdom, e-cigarettes and vaping can lead to lung irritation. It also suggests that vaping can cause damage to important immune system cells. These effects are not unlike the ones that cigarette smokers experience.
  • Impact on the Circulatory System
    According to Dr. Taskiran, vaping increases the heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to an increased risk of circulatory system problems. These problems include impaired circulation, stiff arteries, and less oxygen in the blood.
  • THC Content
    Vaping can, and often is, used to consume THC, or High Potency Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is marijuana. Vape juice is largely unregulated, and it’s not uncommon for off-brand products to contain dangerous additives as well as THC.
  • Unknown Long-Term Effects While originally presented as non-harmful and a healthier alternative to smoking, recent deaths, and lung complications suggest that it isn’t nearly as safe as researchers and the general public originally believed. Vaping is a highly unresearched area, and we know almost nothing about the long-term effects of regular vaping.

What do I do if my Teen is Vaping?

The first thing to do if you think your teen is vaping is to educate yourself. Learn about the health risks and the reasons that teens vape.

The most important thing to remember is that keeping an open dialogue with your teen about vaping is the only way you’ll be able to educate and inform them. Ask them questions about their experiences with vaping, if kids at school vape, and other leading questions.

Avoid confrontational methods of communication, and just try to be open with them about their potential use.

If you are concerned that your teen is struggling with nicotine or THC use or dependence, consider reaching out to our admissions line for advice.

Click here to read more about teen brain development and marijuana use

Click here to learn more about marijuana paraphernalia

Click here to read more about marijuana use in public schools



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