Vaping Awareness: 4 Key Insights to Help Parents Protect Their Kids This School Year

Next month, millions of kids will head back to school. Back to school often means new friends and new clothes, but also can lead to new stressors and peer pressure situations such as vaping. According to the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey, youth vaping continues to be a serious public health concern with more than 2.5 million middle and high school students reporting that they have used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. Because of these continued high rates, youth vaping remains a significant health issue.  

The American Lung Association is actively working to end the youth vaping epidemic with education, advocacy and research on e-cigarettes. As kids head back to school, the organization is educating parents on what they need to know about vaping.  

Here are four facts that every parent needs to know about e-cigarettes: 

1. It isn’t just water vapor. Vaping involves inhaling “e-juice” in the form of aerosol produced by an electronic cigarette or vape device. The aerosols typically contain flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease, nicotine and other harmful chemicals. Vape cartridges or “pods” can also be filled with THC, CBD or other “e-juice.” 

2. It can cause health risks, including lung damage and lung disease. In January 2018, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released a consensus report that reviewed over 800 different studies. That report made clear that using e-cigarettes causes health risks, increases the chance that youth will start to use combustible tobacco products and exposes others to dangerous secondhand e-cigarette emissions. In addition, e-cigarettes deliver a high level of addictive nicotine quickly. Nicotine is harmful to developing brains, affecting attention, learning, mood, impulse control and memory. “The mid-to long-term health consequences of this current generation of e-cigarettes are not yet known. While much remains to be determined about the lasting health consequences of these products, we are very troubled by what we see so far. The impact on the lungs from inhalation of these harmful chemicals can cause lung damage and lung diseases,” said Dr. Albert Rizzo, Chief Medical Officer for the American Lung Association. 

3. Signs Your Teen is Vaping Can Be Difficult to Detect: Vaping is easy to hide, and the signs can be easy to miss. Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes don’t leave the telltale scent of smoke. E-cigarettes and vape devices come in a number of forms. While some resemble tobacco products, others resemble household objects like USB devices, pens, highlighters and chargers. If you notice any of the following things, it’s best to talk with your child about whether or not they are vaping. 

  • Presence of unfamiliar technology, online purchases or packaging 
  • Faint sweet or fruity scents 
  • Behavioral and mood changes 
  • Increased irritability or restlessness 
  • Pneumonia 
  • Nosebleeds

4. Talk to your child about vaping early: You can play a significant role in protecting your child from the dangers of vaping and nicotine dependence. Maintain an open line of communication with your kid and use the tips and suggestions at TalkAboutVaping.org as a framework for having a productive conversation. The Lung Association recommends parents speak to their child about vaping early, while they are still willing to listen (middle school or earlier) before they may be exposed to e-cigarettes. TalkAboutVaping.org provides a guide for parents to talk to their kids about vaping.  

Last August, the American Lung Association and the Ad Council today launched a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) encouraging parents to proactively talk to their kids about the dangers  of vaping. In the coming weeks, the organizations are launching a new educational social media video featuring the popular "Backpack Kid” to further underscore the risks during the vital back to school period. The campaign encourages parents to visit TalkAboutVaping.org for resources to empower parents to talk to their kids about this important topic. 

Learn more at TalkAboutVaping.org. The Lung Association has other resources to prevent tobacco use and help youth quit, including the Lung Helpline, our Vape-Free Schools Initiative, Not On Tobacco, and more resources available online.  

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
312-940-7001
[email protected]

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