The Exchange

Commentary and Observations from
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Vaping: What Parents Need to Know

Vaping: What Parents Need to Know

So what is vaping? Vaping is the inhaling and exhaling of an aerosol produced by using a vaping device. Vaping is illegal for anyone under the age of 18, and in some states the age of 21 years. As of 2018, nicotine warning labels must be on vaping products and must list all ingredients. The devices go by many names including e-cigarettes, smokeless cigarettes, vaporizers, vape pens, mods, tanks, cigalikes, JUUL (pronounced “Jewel”), e-hookah, and hookah pens. They come in all shapes and sizes—the newer ones are even shaped like a USB flash drive. The three most common substances being vaped are flavored e-liquids, flavored e-liquids with nicotine, and marijuana. The flavored e-liquid comes in many flavors—bubble gum, cotton candy, and banana split, to name a few—and has no nicotine. The flavored e-liquid with nicotine contains 2 mg/mL to 59 mg/mL of nicotine in each pod. Each JUUL pod is equal to a pack of cigarettes. Marijuana can be vaped with either the leaves or using THC and/or CBD oil.

According to a University of Michigan study, one in three high school seniors has tried vaping in the past year. Young teens are trying these out at parties and posting videos of themselves having cloud competitions. What is even scarier is the fact that vape shops are offering thousands of dollars in prize money for cloud competitions. In addition, teens who start vaping are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes a year later.

Healthcare providers need to start asking questions on yearly visits about smoking and vaping. Below are several sources for teaching materials healthcare providers can share with parents and teens. When parents talk with their children they need to make sure they make their children feel safe to talk openly. Parents need to be nonjudgmental—they could start with, “Tell me more about what led you to vape?”

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. E-cigarettes shaped like USB flash drives: information for parents, educators, and health care providers. Accessed February 19, 2019.
  • Center for Tobacco Products. How much do you know about the epidemic? Accessed February 19, 2019.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Talk with your teen about e-cigarettes: a tip sheet for parents. Accessed February 19, 2019.
  • Tobacco Free Co. Know the facts: talk to youth about vaping. Accessed February 19, 2019.
  • Tobacco Free Co. Tip sheet: talking to youth. Accessed February 19, 2019.

Filed under: Public Health, Substance Abuse

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