A 2021 report by the National Youth Tobacco Survey revealed that more than 2 million high school and middle schoolers in America consumed e-cigarettes. Almost 85% of these were said to do so using flavored products.
With such a high consumption rate, particularly among teenagers, it is only natural that parents wonder what exactly the vaping phenomenon is that’s swept the nation and continues to increase at an astounding rate.
Are e-cigarettes the same as vapes? Are they drugs or merely harmless substances? All of these questions can be quite tricky to figure out on one’s own. As such we have provided below in-depth explanations regarding what vapes are exactly, along with sections on what to look out for as parents, and how to discourage your teens from vaping.
What are Vapes?
Vapes, also known as vape pens, are simply devices that can be used to consume a number of substances. For this reason, vapes themselves are not necessarily drugs.
“Vaping” is the act of consuming a substance using vape pens. Since these substances can be pretty much anything, a teenager who happens to be vaping might not necessarily be consuming a drug.
However, it should be noted that among the substances that can be consumed using vapes are harmful chemicals such as nicotine and THC (the predominant ingredient in marijuana). So yes, vaping doesn’t necessarily imply drug consumption, but occasionally it does.
Is there a Difference between Vapes, Vape Pens and E-Cigarettes?
Vape pens and e-cigarettes (short form for electronic cigarettes) are the same things. Usually, they are produced in many forms and might be branded under different names, but they both refer to the same kinds of devices.
The function of any vape pen or e-cigarette is to vaporize an e-liquid. Sadly, these liquids tend to contain additives along with other psychoactive substances like nicotine or THC. Sometimes both.
A typical vape, vape pen or e-cigarette contains a battery, mouthpiece, heating element, and a pod for storing the e-liquid.
Vaping Among Teenagers
As seen by the National Youth Tobacco Survey report, vaping is an especially popular activity among teenagers. This is often as a result of peer pressure, coping with stress, and experimentation.
Seen as an activity usually performed by the “cool kids”, it is not unusual for a teenager to take up vaping in order to be associated with this crowd. Additionally, adolescence is usually a trying time for kids. Most teens turn to vaping as a coping mechanism to handle the stress of dealing with their newfound adult responsibilities.
How to Know if Your Teenager is Vaping
Thanks to the compactness of the device and the concealed odor of e-liquids, it can be quite challenging to tell whether or not your teenager is into vaping. Luckily, there are some tell-tale signs which parents and guardians can be on the lookout for anyway.
- Consistently dry mouth, nose, and sinuses.
- Propensity to get thirsty frequently
- Occasional loss of taste and smell and the need to spice up meals even further
- Discovering parts of a vaping device in your teen’s rome, as explained by the CDC here.
The Dangers of Vaping
Vaping can be a very dangerous activity. Even though most teenagers are attracted to vaping due to peer pressure and the need for experimentation, many soon find that the activity is not as pleasant as they thought once the adverse effects start to set in.
What’s more, vaping tends to produce some psychological long-term consequences that may not become apparent until later in life.
Below are examples of some of the dangers of vaping, as outlined by the CDC.
- Vapes tend to contain addictive substances like nicotine and THC. This may cause a teenager to become more vulnerable to substance abuse disorder in the future. What’s more, many manufacturers of vaping chemicals tend to falsely claim that their products contain no nicotine, when in fact it does.
- A teenager’s brain is usually still in development until they’re 25. Vaping chemicals have the ability to harm this development significantly if not stopped on time.
- While a rare occurrence, cases of e-cigarettes and vape pens having defective batteries that result in fires have been recorded.
- Nicotine in vaping products can also cause a handful of physical damages to the body. For example, they may damage the lungs and affect the teeth and mouth.
How to Stop your Teenager from Vaping
Stopping a teenager from vaping can be a quite challenging task. It becomes even more arduous when they’ve been introduced to vaping with nicotine.
Ultimately, successfully discouraging a teenager from vaping involves understanding why they’ve turned to vaping in the first place. This is where communication comes into play.
Once you’ve talked to your teenager about why they vape, you can then begin to work on fixing whatever it is that’s pushing them towards the unhealthy activity in the first place.
Don’t hesitate to share truthful information with them about the dangers of vaping, while staying away from uncorroborated scare tactics. Additionally, ensure that you collaborate with them to come up with a plan and assure them that you’re there for them every step of the way.
Final Thoughts on Vaping
While not all vapes are drugs, they still pose significant health risks to a developing teenager. The risks of consuming these chemicals simply outweigh the rewards, and as a result, it is highly advisable for parents to be on the lookout for signs that their teenagers are indeed making use of vaping products.
Once you establish that your teenager is vaping, the steps above should help you get them on a path towards quitting the act and eliminating the adverse side effects.
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