A new epidemic is threatening the health of our youth- Vaping. It is time for all of us to learn more about vaping so that we can talk to our children about the risks of vaping.
What is vaping? Is it the same as e-cigarettes? How is JUUL different?
First off, let’s start with what to call this health hazard. ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) is the general term used describe e-cigarettes, vape pens, e-cigars, JUULs and other vaping devices that produce an aerosolized mixture of flavored liquids and nicotine.
Want to Learn More?
Talk to other parents. Talk to health professionals. Read this blog. For a real wake-up call, you might try learning about ENDS in the same way youth do. Check out Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and any other social media sites and search for terms such as: "JUULing," "how to vape without getting caught," "cool vaping tricks," or anything else you can imagine your teen typing in. Then you will see how teens will learn about vaping… unless you talk to them first.
Basic facts you need to know before talking with your kids about Vaping:
1. Safety is relative. Although vaping may seem safer than smoking cigarettes, it is still harmful. It may be even riskier for teens to use ENDS.
· Early nicotine use causes changes in the brain. These permanent changes can increase the chances your teen experiences depression, anxiety, impulsive behavior, and loss of concentration.
· Youth who start using e-cigarettes have been shown to be more likely to use other tobacco products and may also use vaping and JUUL devices to inhale the liquid form of marijuana.
· Nicotine use effects immature brains and may make it easier for teens to later become addicted to other drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine (speed).
· The liquid used in ENDS has a mix of nicotine and other substances all known to cause cancer and birth defects. We don’t yet know the long-term effects of many of the other chemicals and flavorings in vaping liquids and JUUL pods.
2. The nicotine in ENDs is HIGHLY addictive, even after just a few uses.
· The FDA has not approved JUULing or other e-cigarettes to help with quitting smoking.
· In fact, teens in high schools are being prescribed nicotine gum to chew in class to help them try to quit vaping.
· JUUL is becoming a very popular brand of e-cigarette that is shaped like a USB drive. It has been nick-named the iPod of e-cigarettes.
· 1 JUUL pod = nicotine content of 200 puffs or a full pack of cigarettes.
3. ENDS do NOT taste, smell or look like a cigarette.
· ENDs are made to look like pipes, pens, flashlights and USB drives.
· Kids are drawn to fun and healthier-sounding flavors like mango, cool mint, fruit medley, and crème brulee.
· ENDs, and especially JUUL, are popular because they are easier for teens to hide. They give off a smaller cloud of odorless or fruity-smelling vapor which leaves no lasting smell on clothing or in rooms.
4. E-cigarettes are the most commonly-used tobacco product among youth.
· In 2015, more than one out of 4 high schoolers and middle schoolers surveyed in the United States had tried e-cigarettes. That study data was gathered a year before JUUL's hit the market.
· It is not hard for youth to get access to ENDS.
Hopefully you now feel a little more informed, but not totally freaked out. Having this information will help you talk with other parents, teachers, and your own children. You can help raise awareness within your communities, hopefully having the same success we have had with stigmatizing cigarette smoking among our younger generations.
Here is where you can go to find out more about vaping in the United States:
· Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/
· The Truth Initiative, Inspiring Tobacco-Free Lives: https://truthinitiative.org/news/what-is-juul
· The Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm
· The United States Surgeon General, Know the Risks, Talking with your Teen about E-cigarettes: A Tip Sheet for Parents: https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/
Amy Harris MS, RN, CNM is a certified nurse-midwife, founder and health writer for Well-Scripted.