An electronic cigarette is a battery operated tool that mimics the effect of cigarette smoking by heating a liquid solution of nicotine and flavorings and giving a visible aerosol when the user exhales similar in appearance to smoke. While e-cigarettes do provide a tobacco free alternative to smoking called "vaping," it still gives users nicotine, a severely addictive drug, and delivers a mix of toxic chemicals into the lungs. Due to the fact that e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, myths about vaping have spread, leading individuals to believe it is not harmful. However, the mix of toxins inhaled in vaping e-cigarettes can cause inflammation and lead to health concerns including asthma, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. In addition to toxins being breathed into the lungs and the high potential for addiction, vaping is also marketed in a way which appeals to children and youth with flavors such as fruit and candy. In fact, due to the presence of nicotine in e-cigarettes, these devices may also serve as a gateway to traditional cigarette use for teens.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) reports that between 2011 and 2012, e-cigarette use more than doubled among U.S. middle and high school students.
Many factors have contributed to youth being drawn to e-cigarettes. In addition to the flavorings are youth friendly advertisements, myths regarding health claims (that e-cigarettes are not harmful as they do not contain tobacco), and how easy the product is to use and obtain. E-cigarettes and vaping pens are sold in grocery stores and gas stations right at the checkout counter.
Nicotine can affect the brain development of children and teenagers.
What parents also need to know is that vape pens are often used to inhale illicit drugs including marijuana, heroin, meth, and liquid spice. There is a growing trend among youth in vaping marijuana. This trend is leading individuals to a practice called "dabbing." This is a process of extracting hash oil out of remnants of the marijuana plant using butane gas. Individuals dab in order to smoke hash oil in vaping pens. Hash oil is extremely concentrated in THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana). Dabbing is a dangerous process as butane gas is extremely volatile and is known to cause harmful and fatal explosions, not to mention the psychoactive effects caused by inhaling high levels of such a pure drug. Dabs are known to contain up to 90% THC. Clearly this gives users a more powerful high and is likely to cause a greater withdrawal and well as produce a stronger addiction.
As vaping grows in popularity and a strong appeal is made to children and youth, it is vital to the health and well-being of your child that you know the risks and dangers of vaping.
For further information on vaping visit samhsa.gov, cadca.org, webmd.com, or sciencenews.org, or for tips on how to talk to your kids about substance abuse visit our website at drugfreetippecanoe.org.