For those that haven’t heard, “vaping” is the new cigarette disguised in language and fueled by misunderstanding and strong appeal to the youth market. In the spring of 2018, 26% of our local high school seniors reported vaping in the last 30 days but less than 4% reported using traditional tobacco cigarettes. By December of 2018, the Surgeon General warned youth vaping is now an epidemic. And today, we have school administrators, parents and whole host of others very worried about the number of adolescents trying it and becoming addicted.
Why do most students see smoking traditional cigarettes as very unsafe and not the new electronic cigarettes that are used to vape? Both contain nicotine, toxic chemicals and are inhaled into the lungs. Why the difference? There are many reasons starting with the fact that they come in delicious flavors, are promoted as the socially acceptable alternative to smoking, are sold as a way to help individuals quit smoking, and they come in easy to conceal, high tech forms that do not even resemble a cigarette.
To help with your understanding and the understanding you share with your child, let’s start with calling them what they are, Electronic Cigarettes. They come in different shapes and sizes and go by different names like “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” “tank systems,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)” or what seems to be the most used, “JUUL” but they all do the same thing. All of them produce an AEROSOL, most think it is just water vapor, that contains nicotine, the highly addictive substance found in cigarettes and other tobacco products, flavorings and other chemicals.
Here is a look at some of them:
The one most used by youth is called the JUUL. It is featured under “rechargeable e-cigarettes” and can be recharged in the USB port of your child’s computer. Not only is the device disguised, the language is as well. They don’t even call it vaping, they call it JUULING. And, to make matters worse, it contains more nicotine than the other ones. In fact, one JUUL pod contains the nicotine equivalent of a full pack of cigarettes.
To help ensure your teen understands the concerns regarding vaping, we suggest you start a conversation that begins with asking them what they know about vaping. Inquire if they have seen people doing it. Give them time to share freely and listen non-judgmentally. Then, if they don’t already know, share the below facts with them.
- Vaping or JUULING is just a fancy way of saying someone is using an electronic cigarette.
- Vaping juices contain nicotine, the highly addictive substance found in traditional cigarettes.
- Each JUUL pod delivers the same amount of addictive nicotine as 20 cigarettes.
- Over 50% of people that experiment with products containing nicotine will become addicted, making it far more addicting than any other substance.
- A person can experience withdrawal from nicotine within 30 minutes. Withdrawal symptoms include: anxiety, headaches, depression, irritability, and cravings. Taken together, it can make it very difficult to get through a school day.
- Nicotine affects the development of brain circuits that control attention and learning. Potentially leading to long lasting problems in these areas.
- The flavorings have not been approved by the FDA for inhalation and can damage your lungs.
- Nicotine use places a teen at risk for mood disorders and permanent problems with impulse control.
- JUUL is backed by Marlboro-maker Altria. This means Big Tobacco is promoting and selling the product. They are invested in keeping people smoking, not helping them quit.
If you find your teen has already started using the JUUL or other electronic cigarettes, it is highly recommended that you work with them to put steps in place to quit. In cases where an addiction has already developed, quitting is going to be difficult. Help your teen understand the withdrawal symptoms will only last for a limited amount of time, the health benefits are worth it and you are there to support them through the process.