Vaping in children is on the rise. In schools it is becoming prevalent in younger children and we are being approached by parents regularly. However there seems a lack of information as to how harmful and illegal it is. We address this specifically below, but vaping is less harmful than smoking, but still more harmful than not vaping at all.
So why are children trying vaping? One major factor is peer pressure. According to a survey conducted by the Truth Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending tobacco use, 63% of young people ages 15-24 who have tried vaping said they did so because “a friend or family member used e-cigarettes.” This underscores the importance of social influence in shaping young people’s attitudes and behaviors around vaping.
Another reason why children try vaping is curiosity. According to the same Truth Initiative survey, 54% of young people who have tried vaping said they did so because “they were curious about it.” This suggests that young people may be drawn to the novelty and perceived “coolness” of vaping.
Marketing also plays a significant role in shaping young people’s attitudes towards vaping. E-cigarette companies have been accused of targeting their products to young people through the use of flavored e-liquids and bright, colorful packaging. In a survey of young people conducted by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 81% of respondents said that the flavors of e-cigarettes were a major reason why young people use these products. The survey also found that 67% of young people said that advertising and promotional activities by e-cigarette companies were a major reason why young people use these products.
What Is in a Vape?
A vape, short for “vaporizer,” is a device used to heat a liquid or “e-juice” to create a vapor that is then inhaled by the user. Vapes are commonly used as an alternative to traditional cigarettes or tobacco products, as they do not produce smoke or contain many of the harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke.
The e-juice used in vapes typically contains a mixture of nicotine (or no nicotine), flavorings, and other chemicals such as propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Some vapes are designed for use with dry herbs or wax concentrates, rather than e-juice.
Vapes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small, discreet devices that look like USB drives, to larger box-shaped devices with more powerful batteries and customizable settings. Some vapes are disposable, while others are refillable and can be used multiple times.
Why Do Children Vape?
It’s clear that a combination of social influence, curiosity, and marketing are driving young people’s experimentation with e-cigarettes. But why is this a problem? As I mentioned earlier, there are serious health risks associated with vaping, especially for young people. Nicotine, which is found in many e-cigarettes, is highly addictive and can harm brain development, leading to addiction and other health problems. As in most cases, we as parents, are often the biggest role models of our children.
To protect children from the risks of vaping, it’s important to take a multi-faceted approach. This should include educating young people about the dangers of vaping, regulating the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes, and providing support for young people who want to quit using these products. Parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals can all play a role in this effort by talking to young people about the risks of vaping and providing resources and support for those who want to quit.
In conclusion, the reasons why children try vaping are complex and multifaceted. Social influence, curiosity, and marketing all play a role in shaping young people’s attitudes and behaviors around e-cigarettes. However, it’s important to remember that vaping poses serious health risks, especially for young people. By taking a comprehensive approach to addressing this issue, we can help protect the health and wellbeing of the next generation.
The Laws Surrounding Children and Vaping
The laws surrounding the purchase of vapes vary by country. Here is an overview of the laws in the USA, UK, Australia, and Canada:
USA: In the United States, the minimum age to purchase vaping products, including e-cigarettes and vaping liquids, is 21 years old. This is a federal law that went into effect in December 2019, as part of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
UK: In the United Kingdom, the minimum age to purchase vaping products is 18 years old. This is a law that was introduced in May 2017, as part of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations.
Australia: In Australia, the laws around vaping products are more strict. It is illegal to sell, purchase, or use nicotine-containing e-cigarettes or liquid nicotine without a prescription. There are currently no nicotine e-cigarettes or liquids available for legal sale in Australia. However, there are non-nicotine e-cigarettes and liquids available for purchase, and the minimum age to purchase these products varies by state and territory.
Canada: In Canada, the laws around vaping products have also become more strict in recent years. As of July 2021, the minimum age to purchase vaping products is 19 years old in most provinces and territories. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional restrictions, such as limits on advertising and flavor options.
It’s worth noting that the laws and regulations around vaping products are constantly evolving, and may vary by state, province, or territory within each country. It’s important to check with your local laws and regulations before purchasing or using vaping products. Additionally, it’s important to understand the health risks associated with vaping and to make informed decisions about your health.
Health Effects on Children of Vaping
While some people believe that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes, the truth is that vaping poses serious health risks, especially to teenagers. The adolescent brain is still developing, and exposure to nicotine and other chemicals found in e-cigarettes can harm brain development, leading to addiction and other health problems.
One of the main health dangers of vaping in teenagers is addiction. Nicotine is highly addictive, and e-cigarettes often deliver higher doses of nicotine than traditional cigarettes. According to the American Lung Association, “youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become regular cigarette smokers.” This is because e-cigarettes can prime the brain for addiction to other substances, including traditional cigarettes.
Another health danger of vaping in teenagers is respiratory problems. Vaping can cause lung inflammation, which can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of lung diseases that make it difficult to breathe. A recent study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that e-cigarette use was associated with an increased risk of respiratory symptoms, including cough, phlegm, and wheezing, in teenagers.
Furthermore, vaping can also have negative effects on cardiovascular health. Nicotine and other chemicals found in e-cigarettes can increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. A study published in the journal Circulation found that e-cigarette use was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in teenagers.
In addition to these health dangers, vaping can also have negative effects on oral health. E-cigarette vapor can damage gum tissue and increase the risk of cavities and tooth loss. A study published in the journal Tobacco Control found that e-cigarette use was associated with an increased risk of oral health problems in teenagers.
To protect teenagers from the health dangers of vaping, it’s important to educate them about the risks and discourage them from using e-cigarettes. Parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals can play a critical role in this effort. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthcare providers ask teenagers about e-cigarette use during routine visits and provide education and support to help them quit.
In conclusion, the health dangers of vaping in teenagers are significant and cannot be ignored. Addiction, respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease, and oral health problems are just a few of the risks associated with e-cigarette use. As a society, we must work together to educate teenagers about these risks and discourage them from using e-cigarettes. By doing so, we can protect the health and wellbeing of the next generation.
What to Do if You Find Your Child Is Vaping
Discovering that your child is vaping can be a concerning and alarming experience for parents. While it may be tempting to react with anger or punishment, it’s important to approach the situation calmly and with compassion. Done be scared of discipline, it is acceptable for you to say no, and the certainty is appreciated by the child. However, it is important that it does end in a shouting match.
First and foremost, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation with your child. According to Dr. Thomas Ylioja, Senior Director of Behavioral Health Integration at National Jewish Health, “parents should start by asking questions and actively listening to their child’s responses.” This can help parents understand why their child started vaping and provide an opportunity for them to express any concerns they may have.
It’s also important to approach the situation with empathy and without judgment. As Dr. Ylioja notes, “It’s important to remember that nicotine is highly addictive and that youth may have started using e-cigarettes because of peer pressure or curiosity.” Punishing or shaming your child may only make them feel more isolated and less likely to seek help if they need it.
In addition to having a conversation with your child, it’s important to provide accurate information about the risks associated with vaping. According to Dr. Sion Kim Harris, Director of the Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships at the University of Illinois at Chicago, “parents should provide information about the harmful effects of nicotine, the risks associated with vaping, and the addictive nature of e-cigarettes.” By providing accurate information, parents can help their child make informed decisions about their health.
It’s also important to seek professional help if your child is struggling with nicotine addiction. As Dr. Ylioja notes, “there are effective treatments available for nicotine addiction, including counseling and medication.” Seeking help from a healthcare professional can provide your child with the support they need to overcome their addiction.
In addition to seeking professional help, parents can also take steps to reduce their child’s exposure to e-cigarettes. This can include limiting their access to e-cigarettes and vaping products, as well as encouraging them to spend time with friends who do not use these products. If you find your child is starting to have destructive friendships we give advice on what to do here. This can be difficult, but a story in that article will help explain why sometimes this difficult conversation is important.
Finally, it’s important to remember that quitting vaping can be a difficult process. As Dr. Kim Harris notes, “quitting nicotine addiction is a process that may take time, and relapses can happen.” It’s important for parents to provide ongoing support and encouragement to their child as they work to overcome their addiction.
In conclusion, discovering that your child is vaping can be a challenging and emotional experience for parents. However, by approaching the situation with empathy and providing accurate information, parents can help their child make informed decisions about their health. Seeking professional help and providing ongoing support can also help children overcome nicotine addiction and protect their health.
Final Thoughts on Vaping in Children
Vaping is not as medically dangerous as smoking so it is easy to down play it. However, it is addictive in nature and therefore can cause mental health problems linked to any addiction. These are wrapped around secrecy and money. It become all encompassing to your child. The fact the flavors are those of fruit drinks makes it clear that these are being targeted at children so education and honesty of are important to be able to talk to your children about this.