With summer at an end, teens have headed back to school. A new school year means new teachers and new classes. For some teens, though, it could also be the introduction to a new habit — vaping.
Nationwide, vaping is recognized as a public health emergency, particularly for kids. Adolescent and teen vaping increases are at epidemic levels. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than one in four high school students use e-cigarettes. Teens who vape are also four times more likely to pick up cigarette smoking. Consequently, doctors, including providers at, St. Elizabeth are concerned that, because of vaping, this younger generation can develop significant health problems earlier. As a parent, there’s a lot you need to know about this trend and how you can protect your child.
What is vaping?
According to the AHA, vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling aerosol, often referred to as vapor, that is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that actually consists of fine particles. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to heart and respiratory diseases and cancer.
Why is vaping bad for teens?
Vaping can cause several short- and long-term health effects in youth. The vapor is immediately absorbed into the bloodstream, decreasing blood flow and reducing oxygen to the organs.
Doctors are still learning about the long-term impacts of vaping, but some issues are already clear. Vaping causes:
· Chemical patterns in the brain to reshape due to the highly addictive nicotine.
· Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, impulsivity, and learning difficulties. · Increased heart attack risk of 56% and stroke risk of 34%.
· “Popcorn lung,” a permanent condition where diacetyl (an e-liquid butter flavoring) creates inflammation and scarring in the lungs, making it hard to breathe.
· Lipoid pneumonia, a form of pneumonia caused by inhaling oily substances in e-liquids.
· Collapsed lung, a hole in the lung that allows air to escape.
· Decreased concentration and comprehension.
· Nicotine addiction.
How to talk to your child about vaping.
Talking to your teen about vaping can be tricky, especially if you think they’re already doing it. It’s important to have the conversation and be prepared to talk about it more than once.
For a good discussion, choose a relaxed time. Your teen may be more inclined to be open and honest during a car ride or over dinner. Then, ask open-ended questions that give your kid a chance to provide more information. Consider asking:
· What do they think about vaping
· If kids at their school vape
· What they know about JUULs or Puff Bars
· If they know the health impacts
Be prepared to share facts about the dangers of vaping. Answer your teen’s questions and avoid criticism. The goal is to keep the conversation going.
What are the myths about vaping?
Here are a few myths and truths you can share with your teen:
1. Myth: Vaping isn’t addictive. Truth: E-cigarettes contain nicotine. Research shows that young brains, under age 25, are more vulnerable to nicotine than adult brains.
2. Myth: Vaping is safer than smoking. Truth: Companies have used this false tactic to promote vaping for years.
3. Myth: Vaping is just water. Truth: Vape liquids are an aerosol that contains many chemicals such as propylene glycol. These aerosol particles are suspended in the vapor, and they are absorbed by the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach and lungs.
4. Myth: Vaping is health-risk free. Truth: Vaping causes many adverse health issues.
How can you help your child quit?
Giving up vaping can be hard. Nicotine is highly addictive and withdrawal can cause anxiety, depression, cravings, and other uncomfortable physical symptoms, such as nausea.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your teen quit:
1. Ask questions: Find out what triggers their cravings, what stresses them out, and what you can do to help make things easier.
2. Stay patient: Your teen will be irritable as they go through withdrawal. Remember to be as understanding and patient as possible.
3. Remove temptation: Work with your teen to dispose of everything they have that’s related to vaping. They’re less likely to give into a craving if there’s no e-cigarette available.
4. Help them create a plan: Talk about strategies to manage cravings, such as activities that can distract them.
5. Offer more resources: Your child will likely need multiple resources to successfully quit. That’s OK. Our St. Elizabeth providers are ready to help.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician about vaping dangers and prevention. Make an appointment with a pediatrician at St. Elizabeth Physicians.