A vape is an electronic device that simulates tobacco smoking. It consists of an atomizer, a power source like a battery and a container (also known as a cartridge or tank) that holds the e-liquid (which may include nicotine and flavorings). When used, it creates a vapor that is inhaled. A person who uses a vape is often referred to as “vaping.”
Smoking never stopped being cool, but JUUL and other manufacturers of e-cigarettes are making them seem cooler than cigarettes, with flavors such as mango, cucumber and creme. Some kids, even those who don’t smoke regular cigarettes, try them just to be cool. And if they’re not careful, their curiosity can turn into addiction.
Getting addicted to vaping can have serious health consequences. For example, it can lead to a disease called bronchiolitis obliterans or “popcorn lung.” It also harms the heart, increases blood pressure and narrows arteries. It can make it hard to concentrate, and it can also damage the immune system. And the adolescent brain is still developing, so it’s especially vulnerable to addictive behaviors.
The chemicals in e-liquid can also harm other organs, including the kidneys, bladder, liver and lungs. They can cause lung scarring, and they can cause shortness of breath and coughing. Some of them, like diacetyl and volatile organic compounds, can trigger asthma. And some can lead to cancer.
There is also anecdotal evidence that vaping can lead to regular cigarette use, and some kids who start with a flavored e-cigarette or vape can end up using smokable tobacco products such as cigars, hookahs or traditional cigarettes.
Nicotine can affect brain development and raise the risk of depression. It can also lead to other health problems, like eye problems and gum disease. And the chemicals found in vapor can cause lung damage, including nicotine toxicity and a condition known as bronchiolitis obliterans, or popcorn lung.
The good news is that you can help your child quit. You can ask your doctor for help and support, talk to a mental health professional or counselor, or find free resources online or on the phone. You can also try things that might help you stop, such as chewing sugar-free gum or lollipops, exercising, hanging out with supportive friends and family, or getting rid of all your vaping supplies.
Talking to your children about vaping can be a difficult task. But it’s important to bring up the topic, especially because a lot of kids don’t think about the dangers of vaping and might not know they’re inhaling harmful chemicals. You can start the conversation by asking them if they know anyone who vapes.
You can also check out CDC’s tips for parents on how to talk to your children about vaping and other health issues. You can find a full list of resources at this link.