Ask teens today if they smoke cigarettes, and the majority will answer with a firm “No Way!” In a 2015 study, only 5.5 percent of high schoolers reported smoking nicotine cigarettes. Change the question to “Juuling,” and you might be surprised. According to The Centers for Disease Control, 3.3 percent of middle schoolers and 11.7 percent of high schoolers reported, vaping, using e-cigarettes such as Juul, in the past year. By senior year, more than 25 percent of high schoolers are using e-cigarettes.
Vaping refers to the tiny puffs, plumes or clouds of vapor emitted when someone uses an electronic cigarette. Electronic cigarettes, which operate on a rechargeable lithium battery, deliver nicotine through flavored e-juice. They are small and can be easily hidden; some look just like a USB device. The e-liquid comes in flavors that are appealing to teens: mint, bubble gum, cotton candy, green apple hard candy, mango. One cartridge or pod can hold 40 mg of nicotine, equal to a pack and half of cigarettes Some e-cigarettes have lower levels of nicotine; regardless, they all are highly addictive.
JUUL®, along with Vuse, Blu and Logic, make up more than 97 percent of the U.S. market for e-cigarettes. Other popular brands include PHIX and Suorin.
Experts around the country are sounding the alarm at what they see as “an epidemic of e-cigarette use among teenagers.” In September 2018, the FDA gave the industry 60 days to submit plans to prevent youth vaping, or potentially see its product removed from the market; the deadline subsequently was extended to 2022.
Although e-cigarettes are believed to contain fewer toxins than other cigarette types, research has detected numerous carcinogenic and other hazardous natural compounds such as acrylamide and propylene oxide. And nicotine remains a concern, as with traditional cigarettes. “Nicotine has particularly harmful effects for developing brains. It’s associated with cognitive problems and poor impulse control,” says Meghan Morean, an assistant professor of psychology at Oberlin College & Conservatory in Ohio. “It’s a much more dangerous compound for kids than it is for adults.”
Vaping devices are not just used for nicotine—they also are used to vaporize THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s mind-altering effects, often through cannabis-infused oils in place of e-liquids. A national survey of teens found that about 6 percent of those who had vaped reported vaping marijuana.
Alerted by Mt. Lebanon School District about the increase in student use of these devices, Outreach has added an educational vaping module to our popular drug and alcohol education program, Choices, with classes held monthly at the Outreach office. Call today to register your teen for this program if you suspect any drug, alcohol or vaping use/abuse. 412-561-5405.
Teens are not informed consumers of e-cigarettes; they may even believe the vaping liquid contains only water and flavoring. Lecturing and punishing is not likely to deter vaping, but parents and the professionals at Outreach may be able to set the story straight by presenting scientific evidence a teen would be hard-pressed to ignore.
In addition to setting the facts straight, adults should model good behaviors for children and teens by living tobacco free. Good health is important for everyone.
You can find resources about vaping and how to talk with kids about it at www.outreachteen.org/?s=vaping.
Outreach Teen & Family Services is a nonprofit, confidential counseling service.e offer counseling and educational programs to youth ages 5 to 21, parents and families that are affordable, accessible and discreet, all within a welcoming, supportive environment.