Overview On Teen Vaping
Vaping is the inhaling of vapor that is created by an e-cigarette (electronic cigarette) or another vaping device. E-cigarettes are currently the most commonly used tobacco product among adolescents. E-cigarettes are battery powered smoking devices that have cartridges filled with liquid (usually containing nicotine, chemicals, flavorings, marijuana, etc.). The device heats the liquid into a vapor that is then inhaled by the teen. Inhaled vapor can be odorless, which makes vaping difficult to detect, and distinguishing what compounds are being vaped even more challenging. The New England Journal of Medicine published the following adolescent vaping statistics: approximately 10% of 8th graders reported having vaped in the past thirty days and that number jumped significantly for the 12th graders to nearly 25%, who reported having vaped in the past thirty days. There is a common misconception among teenagers that vaping nicotine is safer than smoking cigarettes. Further, many teens, believe that vaping poses no health risks.
The most popular e-cigarette used by teens is called the JUUL. The JUUL e-cigarette holds almost three quarters of the entire vape pen market, and recently exceeded a $10 billion valuation. The average cost of the device is about $40, which makes it affordable to young people, and it also offers a variety of flavored cartridges. Each JUUL cartridge contains as much nicotine as one pack of twenty cigarettes. The appearance of the JUUL is amazingly discrete, as it looks like a flash drive. This enables teenagers to hide it easily both at home or in school.
Signs and Symptoms
It is highly common for teenagers to hide their vaping from their parents. U.S News and World Report provide several examples of signs and symptoms that could be exhibited by a teen vaping, which include the following:
- Chronic coughing
- Increased thirst
- Diminished ability to taste (known as “vapor’s tongue”)
- Reduced caffeine intake
- Mouth sores
- Sleep disturbances
- Emotional problems
- Skin damage
Not all teens that present with one or more of the above examples are necessarily vaping. However, any combination of the above examples could be indicative of teen vaping, and should be addressed as soon as possible.
Though the delivery method of vaping has not been present long enough to fully understand its affects on the body, research has found that consistent exposure to nicotine during one’s adolescence can result in slowed brain development (affecting concentration, memory, learning, attention, mood, self-control, etc.). There are additional health risks associated with teen vaping, which can include any combination of the following, as provided by the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Impaired memory
- Lung damage
- Increased risk for developing substance use disorder
- Increased risk for developing heart disease
- Increased risk of cancer
- Chronic pulmonary disease
Regardless of the fact that every teenager is different, teen vaping will increase an adolescent’s susceptibility to the adverse affects that accompany vaping, which could include long-term nicotine addiction and associated diseases and disorders.
For Information and Support
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