E-cigarettes (often referred to as “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,”, “vape pens,” or “vapes”) are electronic devices that use a heated liquid (often referred to as “e-liquid”, “vape juice”, or “vape liquid”), which is a mixture of nicotine, marijuana, flavorings, heavy metals, cancer-causing agents, and/or other highly addictive chemicals to create an aerosol that is breathed into the lungs. Secondhand exposure exists when the e-cigarette user exhales into the air. They can look like typical cigarettes and cigars but can also take the shape of USB drives and pens. They will have a battery, heating element, and liquid reservoir.
A truer statement never existed: vaping is harmful to our youth. Those who vape are harming the portions of the brain that control mood, concentration, learning, and impulse control, more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future, can develop chronic bronchitis and/or lung damage that can be life threatening, and are at risk for nicotine withdrawal when vaping is stopped. Many turn to vaping to ease stress, anxiety, and depression, but the withdrawal from vaping includes anxiety, depression, insomnia, inability to concentrate, irritability, and cravings for nicotine. What may start as an experiment can turn into a vicious cycle of addiction. There is also the risk of serious injury in the common case of fires and explosions caused by defective vaping devices.
Whether you suspect your child is vaping or not, approach this topic in a concerned and supportive manner without judgment. Education is the key to prevention. Support is the key to successful quitting. To help your child quit, suggest picking a day together and making sure friends and family know of this date and support your child. In the time between your discussion and “quit day”, have your child write down reasons why (like positive affirmations), remove all vaping supplies, and purchase sugar-free gum and lollipops to help distract from the oral fixation and cravings. Be prepared to treat symptoms of withdrawal, including headaches and hunger. Finally, be a good example and remain tobacco-free yourself.