Get The Facts About Vaping

Research shows that vaping is dangerous, highly addictive and harmful to a child’s health and brain development. And like other addictions, it’s easier for kids to never start than try to stop once they’re hooked. Get the facts, so you can have a conversation with your child.


What Is Vaping?

Isn’t vaping just “flavored water vapor”?

No. 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,¹ nicotine and harmful chemicals, including formaldehyde and acrolein.² Vape cartridges or “pods” can also be filled with THC, CBD or other “e-juice.”³

Are vape devices and e-cigarettes the same thing?

Yes, e-cigarettes and vaping devices are synonymous. Ever-evolving slang or brand names are also used to refer to vaping, such as “JUULing,” or“blowing clouds,” a nod to the smoke “cloud” produced by exhaling chemical-filled aerosols.

What do e-cigarettes and vaping devices look like?

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. Vaping companies funded by Big Tobacco are constantly coming out with new products built to skirt regulation and parental detection.

What are the signs of use?

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 tobacco. 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
  • Cutting Back on Caffeine
  • Desire for Flavor Due to Tastebud Degradation
  • Pneumonia
  • Increased Thirst
  • Nosebleeds


  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. 2016.
  2. Ogunwale, Mumiye A et al. (2017) Aldehyde Detection in Electronic Cigarette Aerosols. ACS omega 2(3): 1207-1214. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.6b00489].
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products.  


Why Is Vaping Dangerous?

Why should I be concerned if my child is vaping?

Vaping is harmful and dangerous to kids. Almost all vape liquid contains nicotine, which is addictive and harmful to adolescent brain development, and vaping aerosols contain chemicals linked to serious lung disease, and heavy metals.⁴

What makes it addictive?

E-cigarettes deliver a high level of nicotine very quickly. A vape pod can contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.⁵ And just so you know, nicotine is the third most addictive substance behind heroin and cocaine.⁶ Be careful when sharing that with your kids, though, since using scare tactics and equating vaping to other drugs can reduce your credibility and chances of connecting with them.

Most kids don’t know that the chemicals in a vape pod are this addictive when they try vaping for the first time. They don’t realize that they could be signing up for a lifetime of addiction.

Why is nicotine so harmful?

Nicotine is harmful to developing brains, affecting attention, learning, mood, impulse control, and memory.⁷ Nicotine use in youth can increase risk for addiction to other drugs as well; research shows that teens who have vaped are almost four times as likely to go on to smoke traditional cigarettes.⁸ The FDA is also investigating a link between seizures from nicotine overdose in kids caused by vaping.⁹

Why are kids trying it?

Good kids vape, too. Peer pressure and managing stress are some of the main reasons that kids start vaping, even "high-achievers". And as kids learn about how it makes them feel, they become addicted and use it to cope with stress, anxiety or social situations. Some other reasons kids experiment with e-cigarettes include:

  • Rebelliousness/Independence
  • Misinformation
  • Social Media Influence
  • Close Family or Friend Influence
  • Smoke Tricks or Interest in Marijuana


4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. 2016.
5. Willett JG, Bennett M, Hair EC, et al Recognition, use and perceptions of JUUL among youth and young adults. Tobacco Control Published Online First: 18 April 2018. DOI:
6. Nutt, David, Leslie K, William S, Colin B. Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse. 24 March, 2017. DOI:
7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. 2016.
8. Barrington-Trimis JL, et al. E-cigarette Use and Subsequent Smoking Frequency Among Adolescents.Pediatrics, 2018;142(6):e20180486.
9. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA encourages continued submission of reports related to seizures following e-cigarette use as part of agency’s ongoing scientific investigation of potential safety issue. 7 August 2019.


What Is Behind the Epidemic?

How many kids are vaping?

More than 1 in 4 high schoolers and 1 in 10 middle schoolers have vaped in the last 30 days.¹⁰ E-cigarettes have created a new trend of nicotine addiction among American teens. The FDA and U.S. Surgeon General have declared it an epidemic.

Is the trend growing?

Yes. The number of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes rose from 2.1 million in 2017 to 3.6 million in 2018, and further increased to 5.4 million in 2019.¹⁰ ¹¹ ¹²

A spike in popularity has been fueled by enticing products, flavors, packaging and advertising that intentionally targets our kids. And all of this leads to misleading children, and eventually getting them addicted to vaping.

Is there regulation?


No vaping product has been approved by the FDA and there aren’t any studies to show the long-term side effects. In 2017, FDA published a rule clarifying that products made or derived from tobacco are regulated as tobacco products–including e-cigarettes and vaping devices.

And while FDA has issued an enforcement policy on flavored e-cigarette products, including fruit and mint flavors that appeal to kids, manufacturers are finding loopholes and continuing to market flavors to kids.

Additionally, many e-cigarette labels still do not disclose whether or not they contain nicotine. Even those that say they do not have nicotine have been found to contain it.¹³

What is Big Tobacco’s involvement?

Vaping companies are largely owned by Big Tobacco.

That’s right - the same companies who funded and promoted cancer-causing cigarettes are the ones funding vaping. Altria, the owner of Marlboro, is the primary investor in JUUL.

Cigarette sales are declining, which means declining profits for Big Tobacco. Tobacco companies have repackaged the same product and are targeting our kids. We have seen this playbook before, and our kids’ health is in the balance.

As parents, you are the best line of defense when it comes to educating and protecting your child. Talk to your kids, before someone else does first.


10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Product Use and Associated Factors Among Middle and High School Students —United States, 2019. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. December 6, 2019; 68(SS12):1-23.
11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Vital Signs: Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students —United States, 2011–2018. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. February 11, 2019; 68:1-8.
12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students —United States, 2011–2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. June 8, 2018; 67(22):629-33.
13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults.

Talk to your child about vaping.

The facts are clear. As you just learned, vaping is dangerous for your child. You can help prevent them from starting by having ongoing, proactive conversations. Explore our conversation guide or answer a few simple questions to get a personalized guide and learn how to best share facts and concerns with your kid.

"There is a lot I did not know about vaping until now. You can’t just say to your kids, ‘You’re not allowed to vape!’ You have to educate yourself."

- Michele

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