Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling vapor from an electronic cigarette or similar device. The actual device used for vaping is a battery-powered device that heats e-liquid into an inhalable vapor, similar to how steam is formed. Although e-cigarettes have been around for over a decade, vaping rates have skyrocketed in the last few years and it’s mostly due to the adolescent population. E-cigarettes are the most widely used tobacco product among teens. Research shows that approximately 2 million teens have used e-cigarettes in 2017 and the numbers are growing.
Why is this? Youth and young adults are increasingly widely exposed to e-cigarette marketing. Furthermore, packaging has changed making them more ‘kid-friendly’ causing the use of them to reach epidemic proportions. There’s been a widespread report of use by students in schools, including classrooms and bathrooms. In the past couple of months the FDA has stated that they will start cracking down on the illegal sales to minors; however, teens can get the products just as easily with online shopping.
The wide-spread use is causing growing concerns as e-cigarettes are extremely unsafe for kids, teens and young adults. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine – the addictive substance that’s found regularly in cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. Nicotine exposure in adolescents is especially concerning as it has potentially harmful effects on the developing brain. Specifically, nicotine can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control. Research has found that this can also lead to a higher rate of drug and alcohol dependency. Vaping can also cause lung disease and damage the immune system because there are often times cancer-causing chemicals as well as nickel, tin and lead found in e-cigarettes.
Research is pointing in the direction of this trend continuing due to the susceptibility and plasticity of the developing brains. Furthermore, a factor to consider is the social influence young peers have on one another; peer pressure. To help combat this issue parents, teachers or others can take part in educating teens on the health risks of vaping. You can download the talk with your teen about e-cigarettes guide here. Parents or other loved ones can also set a good example by being tobacco-free themselves. Parents can set up an appointment with a health care provider to explain the health risks of tobacco products to their teens. Speak with your child’s school about enforcement of tobacco-free school grounds and prevention curriculum.
What’s important to remember is, it is much more effective to educate teens on prevention rather than treatment later on.
To learn more about the facts and tips for quitting tobacco products click here.
Author: Amy Freeman – Footprints to Recovery – Clinical Case Manager