What Parents Need to Know About Vaping

As I was driving home last week, I happened to look over at the car next to me, where a young girl was driving a sedan. I watched as she put this small device in her mouth and began to inhale, and then I realize she was vaping. My immediate thought was how common this has become and how important it is for parents to be aware of this new trend.


School is back in session, as we prepare our children for the upcoming school year; we buy them new clothes, school supplies and textbooks. We sit with them to discuss expectations for the coming year and talk about how to handle bullies, peer pressure, saying “No to drugs” and other social pressures.

Vaping has become the latest trend in our youth. Last year, reports indicated that approximately 1 in 6 high school students reported using a vaping device. Those numbers are staggering to me! It is important to take time to educate adolescents on the dangers of vaping.

What is Vaping?

Vaping or juuling (jewel-ing) {Juul is a brand device that looks more like a flash drive than an e-cigarette} is inhaling and exhaling vapor or aerosol that is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device/mechanism. These vapors come in a variety of flavors that include cotton candy, banana nut, watermelon, and peach just to name a few. The flavoring can be composed of thousands of chemicals that can include nicotine, formaldehyde, and/or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC which is found in marijuana).

Vaping is being marketed as way to stop people from smoking cigarettes. Unfortunately, due to the enticing selling points it is becoming more and more popular. The biggest selling point is that it is a safer alternative to smoking a pack of cigarettes and having less of an effect on the lungs. Varieties of flavors also help make vaping intriguing. Inhaling watermelon or mango vapor, sounds sweet and delish, so how bad can it really be? 

Vaping.png

What Are the Risks to Vaping/Juuling?

The fact of the matter is that there are a number of risks associated with vaping.

The liquid nicotine that is contained in these vapor fluids can be just as addictive as to that of cigarettes. These vapors get deposited into your lungs causing irritation. Those that are physically active such as high school athletes may notice a decrease in their endurance and speed. Along with the liquid nicotine that you are inhaling, your body is also subjected to: carbon monoxide, carcinogens and thousands of other chemicals while vaping. Inhaling these toxins can lead to the damage of the lining of the mouth creating sores depending on usage/high doses.

Not only does vaping affect your lungs, it affects your brain too. Please note: The brain continues to develop into your 20’s. Studies have been done demonstrating the negative effects that drugs and alcohol have on the developing brain. Nicotine is no different, as it is also a drug. It can affect chemical balance in your brain and lead to addiction, poor decision making, decreased ability to stay focused, anxiety and/or depression to mention a few.

For many years we have come to know marijuana as the gateway drug, meaning it has the potential to lead our children to seek other alternatives of getting high. Now vaping is becoming the new gateway drug while having the potential to increase the likelihood of smoking cigarettes and/or trying other substances.

How to Address This Topic With Your Adolescent?

As pediatric healthcare providers, we encourage our patients to talk to their parents. However, we advise that parents and guardians address issues like this with their adolescent first so they can make informed decisions, reducing the chance of getting misguided information from their peers. Set up a time with your child, where both of you can speak to each other openly, maybe going for a walk, or getting ice cream; you want to create a time where you are able to connect with them. Make your child aware of your concerns and feelings about this new trend, educate them on side effects, and answer their questions and concerns openly and honestly.

If you learn that your child has tried vaping or is currently vaping, take a step back and breathe. It’s not a reflection on you or your parenting. There is a lot of peer pressure placed on our children and the best thing you can do is to educate yourself and talk to your child. Try to determine what lured them into vaping and how you as a family can move on from it in a healthy way.

As a parent of four teenagers, I realize how difficult it is to keep up to date with the latest trends or even how to approach situations like these. An open line of communication with your child is key. Don’t dismiss or cut off their questions, but determine what is driving their curiosity. Is it friends at school, the media, or both? Along with educating yourself, your care team at PAGS is always willing to help and guide you into the right direction.

This blog only highlights some of the concerns with vaping. Parents need to educate themselves. As Dr. Jacques wrote in a previous blog, you want to make sure that the website where you research this information is credible. Specifically, for vaping I would recommend the following:
- Julie Perez, FNP-C
Posted: 9/6/2018 9:21:18 AM by Amie Mcculloch | with 0 comments


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