The Risks of Vaping and E-cigarettes

By: Tori Bowlin

March 20, 2020

Teenager vaping outdoors

In this article reprinted with permission from the Galena Times,  Dr. Max J Coppes, Physician-in-Chief, Renown Children’s Hospital, and Nell J. Redfield, Chair of Pediatrics, UNR Med, talk about adolescents vaping, and how an estimated additional 10 million teens are at risk to start using e-cigarettes.

What are E-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices heating a liquid (e-juice) into an aerosol to be inhaled. Breathing in this flavor vapor, which usually contains nicotine, anti-freeze or other cancer-causing chemicals is called ‘vaping.’  There are many forms of these electronic nicotine delivery devices - and they're not always obvious. They not only appear to be cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, but also pass for everyday items, such as flashlights, flash drives or pens.  

The Effects of Vaping and E-cigarettes

Regardless of the nicotine delivery, vaping is addictive and is quickly becoming a public health concern. Nicotine levels in e-cigarettes vary greatly, and they may also contain toxic chemicals.

Currently there is a wide range of variability among vaping products. In other words - they deliver different ingredients, hardware, levels of nicotine, and possible toxic chemicals to the user. This makes it challenging to create an overall public health recommendation on their use. Nevertheless, there is no confusion about the harmful effects of the chemicals used in e-cigarettes to the young brain, which develops until age 25.

Studies show e-cigarette use serves as an introductory product for teens to go on using ‘regular’ tobacco products. The American Academy of Pediatrics has several recommendations on their use. Such as increasing the minimum age to buy tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to age 21 nationwide. (Update: nationwide the age as of January 2, 2020 is now 21.)

A common misunderstanding with teenagers is the belief e-cigarettes are less harmful than other tobacco products. Moreover, there is a wide range of flavor choices, from mint, mango, crème brûlée to cucumber to attract users. As of September 6, 2019, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting over 450 possible cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarette products in 33 states.   

What Should Parents Know about Vaping?

Parents and teachers should know JUUL is a very popular e-cigarette among teenagers, capturing about 68% of the market. JUUL is sleek, small, hides easily, and resembles a flash drive. Surprisingly it charges in an USB port, and can also instantly be mistaken for a real flash drive. One JUUL cartridge contains twice the nicotine found in other e-cigarette cartridges. This roughly equals the amount of nicotine in an entire pack of cigarettes.

To repeat, the use of JUUL in young people continues to grow, and this is why parents and teachers need to be aware. Be alert, teach, communicate, and talk to your child about the serious risks of smoking in all forms, whether at home or parties. Tell them how difficult it is to quit and why they should not start. Loving your children is caring; caring for their current and future health and well-being.


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