Almost 2 in 3 kids (12 and older) say they have used some type of substance in the past month. Alcohol and tobacco are the two main substances being used. However, use of other substances is on the rise, such as the use of e-cigarette products. In the U.S., youth are more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults are. In 2018, about 5% of middle school students and 21% of high school students said they had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.
Youth often think that e-cigarette products are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, which can be a reason for their popularity. However, most e-cigarette products contain nicotine (although companies selling e-cigarette products often say that they don’t). Nicotine hurts the developing brain and can lead to future addiction to other substances. Apart from nicotine, e-cigarette products are also used to smoke marijuana.
Youth between the ages of 12 and 17 report using marijuana and often believe it is less risky than smoking cigarettes. While all other substance use behaviors, like alcohol and cigarette use, have decreased in the last decade among adolescents, marijuana use, including use via e-cigarettes, has increased. THC is the part of marijuana that makes people feel “high” and can be turned into a liquid cartridge to be used with e-cigarettes or vaping products.
Lung injuries caused by e-cigarettes or vaping products are on the rise. As of October 2019, approximately 1,500 lung injuries and 33 deaths have been associated with e-cigarette products in the U.S. Some lung injuries have been linked to THC-containing products.
The use of substances, like marijuana, often coincides with other negative health outcomes, like depressive symptoms: more than 25% of adolescents who reported using marijuana also reported having a major depressive episode.
Parents play a crucial role in preventing young people from starting to use e-cigarettes and other substances!
What should I know about e-cigarettes, vaping, and other substances?
- E-cigarettes make vapors from liquid in a cartridge, and then people inhale the vapor into their lungs. This is often referred to as vaping.
- Vaping is a form of breathing in vapors or mist that can contains nicotine or forms of marijuana through an electronic device.
- Often the device used for vaping is hard to recognize and can look like a USB flash drive, regular cigarettes, or pens.
- E-cigarette devices often include batteries, which can cause fires or explosions – resulting in injuries.
- JUULs (pronounced “jewels”) are the most often sold e-cigarette device and tend to look like a USB flash drive.
- Adolescents using JUULs refer to it as “JUULing.”
- JUULs can contain as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes!
- Some slang words for e-cigarettes include e-cigs, vapes, vape pipes, and vape pens.
- Many e-cigarette cartridges come in kid-friendly flavors, such as mango, fruit, and crème, making e-cigarettes more appealing to kids.
How can I talk to my child or teen about e-cigarettes, vaping, and other substances?
- Parents should have credible information related to different types of substance use behaviors, including e-cigarette use, such as: https://infoaboutkids.org/body/smoking-alcohol-and-drugs/
- Parents should continuously work toward open communication with children and teens, including strategies like: learning how to be patient and listen; expressing interest in what their child says; repeating what they hear to show they are listening; and avoiding criticism in order to keep the conversation going.
- Parents can talk to teens about the harmful effects of e-cigarettes, vaping, and other substances, and direct them to learn about them on their own as well (for example, https://teens.drugabuse.gov/ )
- Parents should talk to their child when an opportunity naturally arises during everyday life, such as when watching TV and the topic comes up on the screen, or when walking outside and seeing someone drinking or smoking.
- Parents should learn about the different terminology and devices available when using e-cigarettes, vaping, and other substances.
- Parents can set a good example – be careful about substance use!
- It’s okay to ask for help. Parents can ask their healthcare provider to talk to their child about substance use behaviors.
How do I know if my child or teen is using e-cigarettes, vaping, or using other substances?
Some signs or cues related to substance use are often misinterpreted as normal behaviors, including those related to puberty:
- Mood swings
- Slowed response in conversation and other things
- Changes in friends
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- School performance begins to decline
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
Unfortunately, the research on e-cigarettes, vaping products, JUULs, and other substances is limited, and it may take years to determine all the negative health effects of these products, including addiction, damaging brain development, and lung injuries. That’s why it’s so important to prevent and limit the use of these products by children and adolescents.
Statistics on e-cigarette use in the U.S.: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html
What parents need to know about e-cigarettes: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/pdfs/OSH-E-Cigarettes-and-Youth-What-Parents-Need-to-Know-20190327-508.pdf
Tips on talking with youth about e-cigarettes: https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/SGR_ECig_ParentTipSheet_508.pdf
Statistics on marijuana use among adolescents: https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-development/substance-use/marijuana/index.html
Information regarding marijuana use: https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-development/substance-use/marijuana/influencers/index.html
Tips on effective communication: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/communication-parentsProper citation link for this blog post:
Fernandez, A. & Prado, G. (November 15, 2019). The alarming trend of e-cigarettes and vaping among youth: What parents need to know.https://infoaboutkids.org/blog/the-alarming-trend-of-e-cigarettes-and-vaping-among-youth-what-parents-need-to-know