When it comes to cigarette smoking, there’s good news to report. According to the American Lung Association (ALA), adult and youth cigarette smoking rates are at a new all-time low, with only 7.6% of high school students smoking cigarettes and 14 percent of adults. But even with less people smoking overall, there’s been a sharp increase in teen vaping in the last couple of years.
If you have teens, know teens, or are just concerned for teens in general when it comes to vaping, here’s a short overview of how it’s happening and what we can all do when it comes to combating youth vaping.
What Is Vaping?
Vaping is the act of inhaling vapor that is produced by an e-cigarette. An e-cigarette is a battery-powered cigarette that contains a cartridge with liquid including nicotine, natural flavors, and other possible cancer-causing chemicals. The e-cigarette heats the cartridge to heat the liquid, turning it into vapor that then gets inhaled.
E-cigarettes are often used by adults who are trying to quit smoking — the thought is that e-cigarettes are “better” than regular cigarettes because they contain fewer toxic chemicals. The truth, however, is that e-cigarettes are still relatively new, and there’s much to learn about the benefits versus health effects when it comes to using e-cigarettes to help with smoking cessation.
Vaping and Youth
While there are a lot of unknowns about e-cigarettes, what is known by science and research is that they are not safe for use by children or young adults. This is extremely troubling, as recent reports have found a 78 percent increase in youth e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018, with one in five high schoolers and one in 20 middle schoolers using e-cigarettes.
One e-cigarette brand in particular, called JUUL, has been especially popular among kids and young adults, as it looks like a USB drive (masking what it really is to parents and teachers) and is sold in a menthol flavor as well as other more appealing flavored tobacco, like mango, cucumber, crème, and more.
As an additional warning around youth and e-cigarettes, as recently as October 2019, the FDA and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were both conducting investigations into cases of “severe respiratory illness” connected to vaping. At the time of this article’s publication, the FDA was still trying to figure out how vaping was causing the respiratory issues (with symptoms including “breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain before hospitalization”), but maintained that it found these incidents “distressing.”
Talking to Teens About Combating Vaping
With the quick rise in the popularity of vaping, along with the surge of these mysterious respiratory illnesses, now a crucial time to talk to your kids about both cigarette smoking and vaping, and the health risks and dangers that come with each. Listen when your kids talk about what’s going on at school and help them learn the best ways to deal with peer pressure from friends who may be doing it. It’s also important to make sure they’re clear on the current facts about e-cigarettes.
Most importantly, lead by example and keep your home clear of any tobacco products. If you’re a smoker and are trying to quit, try Nicorette Coated Lozenges as a means to reduce your nicotine intake. You’ll get long-lasting craving relief while also being discreet, and when used as directed, these lozenges can increase the changes of quitting success.