How to Talk to Your Children About Vaping

December 08, 2022

Vaping devices

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), e-cigarette use isn’t just up among adults, but it has also tripled in usage for teens. Dr. Jose Cucalon Calderon, a Pediatrics Physician at Renown Health and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, provides helpful insight into e-cigarettes and the dangers it poses to kids and teens.

What Are E-Cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are electronic nicotine delivery devices. e-cigarettes use liquid nicotine as an alternative to traditional smoked cigarettes. e-cigarettes contain nicotine which is an addictive substance with known toxic side effects that, when released in very high doses, that can have health consequences and causes addiction. Nicotine is described as “toxic,” but the most "toxic" part of e-cigarettes' is everything else within the E-juice. Nicotine mainly keeps people coming back for more. According to the CDC, e-cigarettes are also advertised using the same themes and tactics that have been shown to increase youth use of other tobacco products, including cigarettes. In 2021, approximately 76% of students reported exposure to tobacco product marketing through traditional sources, and approximately 74% of students who used social media had seen e-cigarette–related content.

What Does This Mean for the Health My Teen?

We know that nicotine can affect brain development in kids and teens, so it is important to educate your teen on the risks of exposure. If you have young children in the home, it is important to be vigilant as well. One teaspoonful of liquid nicotine can be fatal for a young child.

How Do I Monitor My Teen for E-Cigarette Use?

Monitoring your children can be tricky for parents. E-cigarettes can be harder to detect, unlike traditional cigarettes that were easy to detect by smell and residual odor. E-cigarette use, or “vaping,” is often associated with a dry cough or chronic throat/mouth irritation. Overall, increasing research shows strong links between mental health conditions and posterior combustible tobacco use along with increased risk of marijuana use. Nicotine is addictive, but it does not cause altered mental status like the other drugs of abuse can. All parents are strongly encouraged to talk to their children about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes.  

What are the health risks of vaping?

Vaping devices have been on the market for a relatively short period of time, with evidence-based health effects and complications still being discovered. Vaping effects poses many harmful risks to children and teens. The risks of vaping include:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness Headaches
  • Impaired response to infection in the airway
  • Inflammatory problems of the airway
  • Nausea
  • Nicotine addiction
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting  

For more information for both parents and teens about quitting smoking or vaping, you can click here. Parents can also use this tip sheet from the U.S. Surgeon General to talk to their child about vaping. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration free national helpline number is 1-800-662-4357 (HELP). It is available 24/7, 365 days a year offering confidential treatment referral and information (in English and Spanish). If you or someone you know is facing a substance (or mental health) problem, please reach out to them.

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