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What’s Up With Vaping? What Parents Need To Know

Dear Your Teen:

My daughter tells me that vaping is the popular thing for teenagers. According to her, everyone is doing it and they’re doing it everywhere. What do I need to know?

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EXPERT | Dr. Samuel A. Ball

The use of electronic nicotine delivery systems, including e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, has increased dramatically among teens in recent years. In fact, vaping devices are now more commonly used than traditional cigarettes among high school students. Because one does not inhale tobacco smoke vaping, teens consider it less harmful than cigarettes. Ongoing research is evaluating whether they may help smokers stop or reduce their health risks.

However, most experts agree that use by teens is a cause for serious concern for several reasons.

4 Dangerous Consequences of Vaping

1. They promote nicotine addiction.

Nicotine addiction is one of the most difficult addictions to reverse. It increases not only the likelihood of later cigarette smoking, but the risks of abuse and addiction to other substances.

2. The teenage brain is especially vulnerable to effects of substances like nicotine.

The early use of alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs increases the risk for negative health effects and other consequences.

3. Several additives in e-cigarettes are known carcinogens or toxins.

The long term health effects of aerosolizing nicotine and the e-cigarette flavorings into a young person’s lungs are unknown.

4. The use of these products re-normalizes “smoking” behavior.

After two decades of intense national efforts, we have witnessed notable success at reducing smoking. The taking over of small e-cigarette companies by big tobacco companies will make each of these problems worse.

Experts are calling on federal agencies to support research into the risks and possible benefits (for smoking cessation) of these products and to better regulate their access and marketing to young people.

In the meantime, strongly encourage your daughter and her friends to stop vaping. Teens should avoid a lifetime of nicotine addiction, whether from traditional or alternative tobacco products like e-cigarettes or vapes, at all costs.

Dr. Samuel A. Ball

Samuel A. Ball, Ph.D. is a professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Ball is an addiction specialist.