What is vaping?
Vaping is a form of smoking, but instead of the traditional cigarette or cigar, individuals smoke from an electronic device that turns liquid into a vapor or aerosol that is then inhaled. The vapor quickly evaporates leaving no smell or odor. Originally, the e-cigarette model was created as a stepping stone for those wishing to stop smoking, but its commercialization and sweet tasting flavors have quickly caught on with younger populations.
Who is vaping?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, over 10% of students in 8th grade students have used an e-cigarette or vape. As students get older, their likelihood of using either of these items increases with 15-20% of upperclassmen stating they use some form of e-cigarette. Additionally, vaping does not seem to be fixed to a certain geographical location, with school districts and parents reporting an increase in the trend across the country. The fact of the matter, vaping is everywhere.
Is vaping even bad for you?
There is a lot of confusion about vaping, in part, because we don't know the long term consequences of the action. Most e-cigarettes, or vapes, contain nicotine which is a highly addictive substance. Furthermore, students seemingly do not know what exactly they are consuming with 66% of teens stating the only thing in their vape is flavoring. The scary truth is a vape pen or e-cigarette can contain different harmful additives including marijuana or THC, particularly if an individual uses someone else's item. Regardless of the devices contents, according to NIDA, the mere use of an ecigarette increases the potential to smoke other more harmful options by over just over 30%.
What do these items look like?
E-cigarettes come in all shapes and sizes with the most common among teens being the Juul. Juul, a company receiving publicity recently for targeting young adults in its advertising, is the largest provider e-cigarettes on the market today. Its shape resembles a flash drive more than it does a cigarette. It is sleek and easy to conceal. Other items are slender looking more like a large pen called Vape Pens, or a larger device a chamber on can hold with one hand known as Mods.
What do we know about “vaping” and your child’s brain?
E-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid usually has nicotine and flavoring in it, along with other additives. The nicotine in e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes is addictive. E-cigarettes are considered tobacco products because most of them contain nicotine, which comes from tobacco
Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including:
- ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
- flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease
- volatile organic compounds
-heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead
Adolescent years are times of important brain development. Brain development begins during the growth of the fetus in the womb and continues through childhood to about age 25. Nicotine exposure during adolescence and your adulthood can cause addition and harm the developing brain.
E-cigarettes are very popular with young people. Their use has grown dramatically in the last five years.
E-cigarette use among youth and young adults is strongly linked to the use of other tobacco products, such as regular cigarettes, cigars, hookah, and smokeless tobacco. Some evidence suggests that e-cigarette use is linked to alcohol use and other substance use, such as marijuana. And certain e-cigarette products can be used to deliver other drugs like marijuana.
Is “vaping” against school rules or expectation?
Yes, you must be 18 to purchase and legally use an electronic cigarette, vape, Juul, etc. The consequence is the exact same as if you were smoking a cigarette, which violates the Student Code of Conduct in the Jesup Community Schools Student Handbook (pg. 9). It is also is in violation of the Jesup Good Conduct Code Policy.
What can we all do to discourage students from “vaping”?
The U.S. Surgeon General has a document that we thought does a nice job preparing adults—parents or staff—for having a conversation with a child about vaping. The document is linked here:
The web page isn’t very long, and it has some great tips on having a conversation with your child about a “tricky” subject:
Find the right time to start the conversation.
Answer questions your kids might have about e-cigarettes. The document shares some ideas for how best to answer those questions. You certainly don’t have to follow the document’s “script”, but it does give you some ideas to get you started.
We certainly don’t want students using e-cigarettes at school, on school property, or outside of school for that matter. The Surgeon General and CDC have identified e-cigarettes as likely to have ill effects on our kids’ health. Please help us discourage kids from vaping at school or outside of school.
The Surgeon General has another web page—that’s pretty short—that talks about sharing some of those risks with our kids, as well:
Thanks, very much, for working with us to help kids make healthy, informed choices, both now and in the future. For more information, please reach out to an administrator or school nurse, and we’ll do our best to answer your questions.