teen vaping

Vaping is Becoming a Teen Epidemic

April 12, 2018

When a person inhales or exhales the aerosol known as a vapor produced by e-cigarettes or other similar devices, he or she is vaping. Since e-cigarettes don’t make tobacco smoke, all too often a person mistakes the vapor or aerosol for water vapor. The fine particles in the vapor have been found to contain several different amounts of chemicals. Studies conducted by the New York University School of Medicine in New York City of these chemicals show that they are linked to cancer, heart and respiratory disease.

E-cigarettes were introduced to the U.S. mass market in 2007. Since then, their use has grown in popularity. Besides e-cigarettes other vaping devices have also grown in popularity including vape pens and MODS (personal vaporizers). With this popularity growth, teenagers’ use of e-cigarettes has grown and grabbed the US Food and Drug Administration’s attention.

In a 2016 report by the US surgeon general, there was a 900% increase between 2011 and 2015 of e-cigarette use by high school students. Also noted by a survey of the 2016 National Youth Tobacco was a finding the as many as 1.7 million high school students reported having used e-cigarettes during the past 30 days. 500,000 middle school students reported their use as well. Obviously, e-cigarette use by teenagers in the U.S. has become a national problem. Is your child fighting this problem? If so, you’re not alone with this fight. Learn more about teen vaping and its increasing epidemic.

How Does a Parent Know Their Child is Vaping?

If you’re one of those parents who say and believe, “Not my child”. Don’t be a fool. There is no telltale smell or smoke if your child is vaping. However, there are signs you should be aware of.

  1. The Innocent Smelling Scent – According to Laura Offutt, MD, the teen health “Real Talk with Dr. Offutt” founder, a major appeal of e-cigs is the fact that they lack a cigarette odor. Instead, the smell you should be suspicious about could be fruit punch, mint or bubble gum. These smells coupled with the lack of juice containers, candy or gum wrappers most likely are a red flag.
  2. Pens that don’t write – Dr. Offutt point out that all too often e-cigarettes or vaporizer look like other things. They may look like pens, a stylus or a thumb drive. If you do find something that looks like one of these, look closely at it. It could be an e-cig if the item has holes at each end.
  3. Teenager sips liquids continuously – The propylene gycol ingredient in e-cigs is an “hygroscopic”. An “hygroscopic” attracts and holds the environment’s water molecules. Since the mouth would be its environment, the propylene gycol will cause your teenager to have a dry mouth constantly. As a result, your teenager will quaff down a lot more drinks. Another side effect could also be dry skin.
  4. Dry nasal passages cause nose bleeds – Another result of the water-holding effects of e-cigs is the drying of a person’s nasal passages. The dry nasal passages lead to frequent bloody noses. If your teenager has frequent bloody noses, the cause could be vaping.
  5. Avoiding caffeine – Because users of e-cigs are sensitive to caffeine, users will often curb their intake of caffeine. If your teenager suddenly stops drinking Red Bulls they chugged often in the past, their vaping may be the reason.
  6. Irritable behavior – Nicotine withdrawal causes irritable behavior and is a sign that your teenager may be vaping.

Dr. Michael Bernstein, MD, associate director of pulmonology at Stamford Hospital in Connecticut, recommends that if you discover that your teenager is vaping, you must educate your teenager about vaping. They must realize that smoking and vaping are not essentially the same. If you catch your teenager puffing, they won’t be able to give you the excuse, “I’m not smoking, I’m vaping”.

Does your teenager believe “vaping isn’t dangerous”? If so, Dr. Bernstein recommends making the following analogy: “Jumping out of airplanes using a parachute with holes is better than using no parachute. What’s even better? Don’t jump out of airplanes.”

Besides watching out for the 6 above signs your teenager is vaping, tips parents should consider doing include:

  • Question requests for money from your teenager.
  • Educate yourself about vaping and its dangers.
  • Have frank talks with your teenager about vaping.

Approaches to Talking to Your Teenager about Teen Vaping

You may believe vaping may be a way to discourage teenagers for smoking conventional cigarettes. However, a report published by the National Academies of Science, Engineer and Medicine claims this is not so. According to this report, vaping actually prompts teenagers to try cigarettes. Besides vaping encouraging teenagers to smoke cigarettes, parents should be concerned about the effect of nicotine on the development of a teenager’s brain as well as other potential health risks of vaping. Even if vaping were less risky than smoking, not vaping is still much healthier than vaping. How can parents have successful conversations with their teenagers about the dangers of e-cigarettes?

Facts Simply Don’t Go Far

Teenagers don’t make smart choices based on good information. They are known to routinely do unhealthy things. Parents should ensure that their teenagers know the facts about the dangers of vaping. However, simply educating your teenager about the dangers of vaping will not convince them.

Find Out Your Teenager’s Opinion of Teen Vaping

Ask questions such as “Do kids your age vape?” or “What do you think about e-cigarettes?” Your teen’s response should let you know what conversation you need to have.

Get Your Teenager to Weigh His or Her Options

It’s the nature of teenagers to push the limits set by parents and other adults. For that reason, they may find vaping a convenient way to do so. Another reason a teenage may try vaping is that they are just curious about the different flavors.

You must avoid addressing only the downsides of vaping in order to prevent your teenager from dismissing what you say by seeing you as a killjoy. Remember, you want your teenager to be self-protective and weigh his or her options. An approach that might work could be, “I don’t hate your having fun. I simply love you.”

Get Your Teenager to Trust You

Your teenager must trust you if he or she is going to share your opinion. One way to achieve this is to let him or her know that there are things that remain unclear about vaping. For instance, you can point out that nicotine is addictive. If you don’t get hooked on the nicotine, it may still affect the development of your brain. There’s a lot we don’t know about the effects of inhaling metal particles and chemicals. That’s a reason not to take the risk by vaping.


It’s a good idea for parents to keep the communication lines open. It certainly isn’t easy to get your teenager to discuss the everyday dangers they face such as vaping. If you approach the vaping subject with a discussion of choices teenagers can make. As a parent, be careful to talk with your teenager and not at him or her.

In spite of your efforts, you may find that your teenager does have a problem caused by vaping. If that should be the case, help and residential treatment is available at Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center.