Back in April of 2018, the Partnership hosted a presentation called “Vaping, Juuling, and E-cigarettes: What Parents Need to Know” for a group of parents, teachers, and other adults. We learned so much that evening from Melinda Calianos of the Hampshire Franklin Tobacco-Free Community Partnership and Kat Allen of the Communities that Care Coalition!
It turned out that we were ahead of the curve in tackling this topic. Almost immediately afterwards, several prominent public health organizations released campaigns and data sheets intended to help adults and young people understand how vaping became so popular so fast. These materials are great for people who want to make more informed decisions about this new way of using substances.
We’ve put together a selection of some resources about vaping that we think are especially helpful — if you read this post and want to dig deeper, be sure to check it out!
Here, we’re focusing just on the “big ideas” we think every adult who cares about young people should know:
What is vaping?
When a person vapes, they use a battery-powered device to heat a liquid, which produces an aerosol (often called ‘vapor’) that they inhale and exhale. Vaping devices are often small and may look like pens, USB drives, or credit card holders. The liquid is often flavored like fruit or candy, and the odor of the aerosol plume matches the flavor. The liquids (often called e-juice) used in vaping devices are sold in stores and online, but it is also possible to fill a vaping device with a homemade mixture.
Vaping is harmful.
- Many people who vape believe they are inhaling flavored water vapor, but the pre-filled pods and “e-juice” sold to people who vape typically include ingredients such as glycerin and propylene glycol, as well as diacetyl, VOCs, and benzene.
- Almost all of the vaping liquids that are commercially sold contain nicotine, an extremely addictive substance that teens are more sensitive to than adults.
- Vaping liquids and vaping devices are not regulated in the United States (yet), so there are no safety or ingredient labeling requirements for them.
- Vaping technology is new, so longterm studies of the physical effects of vaping don’t exist yet, but we already know that inhaling aerosolized liquids and other ingredients found in e-juice is harmful to lungs.
A lot of kids are trying it.
While vaping products were brought to the marketplace as smoking cessation tools and are generally not legal to sell to youth, nationwide many, many teens have tried vaping in the past few years.
In their 2018 survey 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students, the Communities That Care Coalition of Franklin County, MA found that while youth use of substances has continued trending down generally, the percentage of teens who reported vaping in the past 30 days is striking.
Adults can help change this.
As you can see from the line graph above, overall rates of youth substance use are trending down in our region. The same strategies that have helped reduce cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use by youth can be applied to vaping.
The most important things you can do are to tell children and teens that you care about them and you don’t want them to vape. Help them get the facts they need to understand why. And make sure they know that, while it may seem like “everyone” is vaping, that’s actually far from the truth.
Here is a visual representation of the data we have about Franklin County youth use of tobacco and vapor products in 2017. The white area inside the oval represents the 81% of respondents who don’t use at all.