Teens & Vaping: What to Know and Do

Teens & Vaping: What to Know and Do

Despite the headlines and warnings, many teens continue to smoke e-cigarettes (also known as vaping). E-cigarettes were originally intended to help adults quit smoking. However, ease of use, availability, flavoring, advertising and lack of a strong smell have actually made it easier for both adults and teens to start or continue on the path of nicotine dependence.

When it comes to e-cigarettes and teens, here are six things to know:

  1. Vaping is on the rise. In 2018, more than 37% of 12th graders said they vaped at least once in the past year (compared to 28% in 2017).

  2. Teens addicted to e-cigarettes can experience nicotine toxicity and serious respiratory problems like restrictive lung disease. Young people can also suffer from fatigue, anxiety and mood swings. “As a physician for all age groups, I see the consequences of nicotine dependence in my practice every day,” said Dr. Joel Veldhouse, an internal medicine and pediatric specialist. “In the short and long term, patients ultimately pay large monetary and health prices from this addiction.”

  3. Doctors believe side effects from vaping might be more severe due to the design of e-cigarettes, which allows users to inhale larger amounts of nicotine compared to traditional cigarettes. E-cig users can buy extra-strength cartridges that have a higher concentration of nicotine or they can increase the e-cigarette’s voltage to inhale larger amounts of vapor. (Some e-liquid products contain nearly 50 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter of liquid—more than four times the milligrams of nicotine in a cigarette.)

  4. Studies have shown that teen vaping often leads to cigarette smoking. “If a teen vapes, they’re more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes,” Veldhouse said. “It’s the number one reason why I strongly recommend against the use of the e-cigarettes and vapes.” 

  5. Vaping cannabis produces a much stronger effect than smoking marijuana. According to a JAMA Network Open report, vaping led to higher blood concentrations of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), which could result in higher levels of cognitive and psychomotor impairment.

  6. As of December 2019, it is illegal for consumers under the age of 21 to buy nicotine and tobacco products. It’s also illegal for those 21 or older to provide tobacco or nicotine products to those under 21.

Teen Vaping: What Parents Can Do

The good news is, moms and dads have more power than they might think. You can help your kids avoid the health risks of vaping by:

  • Talking to them. Good communication between parents and teens can be key in nurturing healthy choices. Let them know about the dangers and potential long-term consequences of vaping.

  • Asking open-ended versus yes or no questions. If your child admits to vaping, react with care and compassion, not judgment.

  • Watching for warning signs. While e-cigarettes don’t necessarily have an odor, there are other signs to be on the lookout for, such as bloodshot eyes, increased thirst, nosebleeds and cough.

  • Setting a good example by not vaping or smoking. If you smoke, don’t quit on the idea of quitting.

  • Connecting them to additional support for living a vape- and/or tobacco-free lifestyle.

In your neighborhood and close to home, Holland Hospital Primary and Specialty Careteams are focused on your health and wellness—delivering experienced, compassionate care for people of all ages.

  • Joel P. Veldhouse, MD

    Joel P. Veldhouse, MD

    Holland Hospital Pediatrics & Internal Medicine
    3235 N Wellness Dr
    Building A, Suite 120A
    Holland MI 49424
    P: (616) 399-0902
    F: (616) 399-0513

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