“It’s just vapor!” said her son. “Everyone does it and it’s safer than smoking. And you smoke. Do you want me to smoke?” “Of course, not”, responded the mother, knowing the dangers involved.

This conversation goes on every day around the world. Are you ready for it? Let’s break it down.

What is Vaping?

The use of a hand-held device that uses batteries to produce an aerosol that contains nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals. The vapor is not the same as water vapor. It is aerosol, and there is nothing safe about breathing in aerosol.

Who is Vaping?

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) in their February 2019 newsletter, vaping increased from 2017 (28%) to 2018 (37%) of 12th graders. That means in the average class of 30 students, 11 of them are vaping. Among 10th and 12th graders, at least 25% of them believed they were ingesting only flavoring.

What are Some of the Street Names? How do the Devices Look?

While Juuling is a common term, based on the Juul® e-cigarette, for vaping. But there are other terms: “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” and “vape pens.” These methods of delivery can look like pipes, cigarettes and even USB flash drives or other everyday items. You may have come across them and thought that they were ordinary items your son or daughter needed for school.

Is Vaping Safe?

Vaping is safer than smoking, but it is still not safe. Kids are getting hooked on vaping while they and their parents think it is safe. The long-term effects of vaping are still unknown, but we do know this: Vaping pods can contain nicotine levels equal to 20 cigarettes or more. Nicotine is an addictive substance that is also unsafe for the body. It affects the heart, hormones and gastrointestinal system.

And the other chemicals involved, including formaldehyde and heavy metals, are known carcinogens. Besides cancer, vaping can cause lung and heart disease. Among children, there is a real chance that brain development will be disrupted due to the nicotine. One form of vaping utilized a buttery-flavored substance called diacetyl which is linked to a serious lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, which causes headaches, fever and shortness of breath.

According to the CDC, “As of August 27, 2019, 215 possible cases of severe pulmonary disease associated with the use of electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, products, have been reported by 25 states and additional pulmonary illnesses are under investigation.”

Does Vaping Lead to Cigarette Smoking?

Michael Blaha, M.D., M.P.H. , a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins, said in an article “Does Vaping Lead to Smoking?” that “there’s evidence that young people who vape are more likely to go on to use illicit drugs and tobacco products such as cigarettes.” Blaha also said that vaping is often the young adult’s first encounter with nicotine.

How to Talk to Your Child About Vaping.

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids published the article, “How To Talk With Your Kids About Vaping” that provides guidance on how to answer some of the tough questions. The Public Health Insider has an article entitled “Tips from Teachers: How to Talk To Your Kids About Vaping.” In general, it is not if your child will be asked to vape, but when. Being prepared with the answers will help the two of you better understand how to deal with it.

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