The allure of teen smoking is nothing new. During the American Industrial Revolution, when child labor was still legal, kids would smoke all the time. People didn’t even know smoking was harmful until the 1960s! (Crazy, right?)
Teen Vaping Takes Over
Since about 2014, e-cigarettes and vapes have become the most commonly abused product among teenagers. According to a survey by Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, a pediatrician and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School: “The survey for 2022 found about 2.5 million adolescents used e-cigarettes, with 27.6% of adolescents using the devices daily.”
Even though vaping is promoted as less harmful than smoking, there are still some deeply serious side effects that parents and teens need to be made aware of.
Vaping is Super Addictive
Vapes have a higher concentration of nicotine than regular cigarettes. One JUUL pod has the same amount of nicotine as 20 cigarettes!
Vape pens also deliver nicotine more efficiently to the bloodstream, making them incredibly addictive, especially for teens.
It’s Also Terrible for Your Heart and Lungs
Nicotine raises your blood pressure, which can increase your heart rate and increase the risk of a heart attack.
A study from John Hopkins University has shown that vaping increases the odds of getting asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Even though this study doesn’t show that vaping directly causes lung disease, it does increase the chances of getting it.
In February 2020, the CDC reported that 2,807 people were hospitalized or had died due to e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury, or “EVALI” for short. They also reported 68 deaths.
The EVALI outbreak was due to vitamin E acetate found in some e-cigarettes that contained THC. Because of this, the CDC and FDA recommend that people avoid e-cigarettes containing THC. They also recommend avoiding black market products and vapes that have been altered.
Electronic Cigarettes Have Thousands of Unknown Chemicals
Research on vaping is still in its early stages. It will take many more years before we understand the full effects of vaping. In a study by John Hopkins University: “Vaping aerosols contain thousands of unknown chemicals and substances not disclosed by manufacturers, including industrial chemicals and caffeine.”
These unknown chemicals might cause serious health impacts down the road. We just don’t know yet.
Because vaping is so prevalent among teens, it is highly likely that your teenager will be offered a vape pen at some point. Talk to your child about the dangers of vaping and smoking. It’s really unhealthy even if it’s (maybe) not as bad as smoking cigarettes.
They can watch some YouTube videos from teens who became addicted to vaping. Teenagers tend to think they’re invincible and that none of the bad things associated with vaping will ever happen to them. If they hear stories from their peers, they are more likely to listen to the warnings.
This short documentary made by a teen vaping addict is particularly powerful:
I can understand why teens love vaping. I used to smoke as a teenager because I thought it looked cool and I liked the taste and smell of cloves and flavored cigarettes. I grew up around smokers and most of my friends smoked.
Even though I knew smoking was unhealthy, I didn’t think about the health risks and no one sat me down to talk about it with me.
If vapes had existed when I was a teenager, I would have been all over that!
It wasn’t until I became older and more health conscious that I realized how damaging all of this can be. I only did it recreationally and never became addicted, but for those who do become addicted to nicotine, it’s extremely hard to quit.
ALSO: Should Parents Allow Teens to Drink at Home?
If you want to prevent your teen from vaping, be honest about the risks without blowing things out of proportion. Present the facts to them honestly and calmly.
If you have good lines of communication and they trust what you have to say, they will be more likely to say “no” when they’re offered that first hit.