ERYC intern studies vaping and where, why kids do it.

Posted on February 01, 2018

Vaping and Youth

By: Kaitlyn Cooper

Kaitlyn Coopier

Vaping first became popular in the mid 2000s but the use of vape pens among teenagers has increased exponentially since then. According to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study, the 2014 national high school survey found there were more monthly vapers than monthly smokers: 17 percent of US 12th-grade students report using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. From my personal experience and observations around my high school, this number has only increased.

But the question is, why do kids vape? According to surveys among high school and middle school aged kids, it is a common belief that vape pens are better for your health compared to traditional cigarettes. However, this is not the case. Vape pens and other forms of e-cigarettes contain many of the same dangerous chemical products that cigarettes have. Vape pens are considered a tobacco product, which is why it is illegal for anyone under 18 to purchase them. However, it is not illegal for minors to use these products. According to the 2016 US Surgeon General’s Report, vape pens and other e-cigarettes contain dangerous ingredients such as nicotine, flavorings such as diacetyl (which is linked to lung disease), volatile organic compounds, and even heavy metals. Every time someone takes a puff, these unhealthy chemicals enter the brain, lungs, and bloodstream. These are especially dangerous for youth. Brain development doesn't stop until 25 years of age and the harmful chemicals can disrupt the healthy development and cause addiction. Young children are more at risk of becoming addicted than adults are, due to the fact that their brains are still making critical connections. Vaping can affect the center of the brain responsible for decision making and impulse control.

Some parents might ask “Where do kids go to vape?” The answer is, kids can vape pretty much anywhere. Because vape pens don’t have a strong or distinctive smell, it can be pretty easy to conceal. Vape pens also run on a battery so they are extremely portable. They are also very easy to hide due to their small size. For example, I have seen kids who vape in class and blow the vapor down their shirt. There are also lots of places to vape such as in cars, in parking lots, and at parties.

If you have concerns about your kid vaping, the first step is to become educated on the topic. Try to avoid criticism, be open to having a conversation rather than a lecture. Be prepared to answer their questions as to why you’re uncomfortable with them using e-cigarette products with facts rather than just “Because I said so.” When you say that to your teenager, they will shut down. Be open to hearing their side of the story and express your concerns for their health. Vaping has become a worldwide phenomenon in the last couple years and it is important to be aware of the consequences of putting the chemicals in your body.  

Health Risks of Vaping  (US Surgeon General’s Report)
• Contains:
◦ Nicotine
◦ Flavorings such as diacetyl (linked to lung disease)
◦ Volatile organic compounds
◦ Heavy metals
• Brain development doesn't stop until 25 years old and the harmful chemicals can damage the healthy development and can cause addiction
◦ It can affect the center responsible for decision making and impulse control
• Young people are more at risk of becoming addicted than adults
• There is some correlation between the use of vape pens and other forms of e cigarettes and tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol.
• A 2014 national high school survey finds more monthly vapers than monthly smokers: 17% of US 12th-grade students report using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days
◦ This number has only increased
• Most teenagers don’t realize that their vape pens actually contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals that are in cigarettes too
◦ They think that they are a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes
Where Kids Vape
• In class
• In their cars
• Restrooms
◦ In parks
◦ Parking lots
• Parties 





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