The term “vape” is used to describe e-cigarettes and other devices that heat and vaporize liquid to create nicotine or other flavorings. The vapor is inhaled, and it can contain harmful chemicals that may damage your body’s organs, including your lungs and the lining of your mouth and throat. It can also harm your heart and blood vessels and make it harder to breathe. Nicotine affects your brain development and makes it harder to concentrate, so vaping can make it harder to do well in school or other activities. It’s also linked to other kinds of substance abuse, like illegal drugs and alcohol.
Many kids think vaping is harmless because it’s advertised in kid-friendly flavors, and it’s easy to hide in places where smoking isn’t allowed, like bedrooms and bathrooms. And some teens use vapes to smoke marijuana, which carries its own risks. E-cigarettes are available in brightly colored packages that look like candy or juice, and they often have buttons that change the intensity of the vapor. This can make it hard for parents to tell whether their children are using them or not.
Kids who vape can have a hard time quitting, and this could lead to addiction. The e-liquids in them can have thousands of chemical ingredients, including some that are not yet known to be safe. And they can cause problems like lung scarring (called bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung”) and lung damage from heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.
Some research suggests that using e-cigarettes may help you quit smoking, but it’s not foolproof and many people who vape start using other products like cigarettes again. Having multiple addictions is not good for your health.
Even though e-cigarette sales have declined since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2019, some researchers expect that they will rise again. That’s because teens aren’t likely to stop using disposable devices like Juul or Puff Bars, which are easier and cheaper to buy than regular e-cigarettes. Plus, they can be used in more public areas than a regular cigarette.
In the meantime, try to help your teen or young adult stay smoke- and vape-free. Encourage them to take care of themselves and set a good example by keeping your house smoke-free. Use the resources on the Smoke and Vape Free page to get support if they need it.
The FDA started cracking down on e-cigarettes in 2019 by banning some flavors, and it’s trying to stop unauthorized products from entering the market. But some e-cigarette manufacturers are taking advantage of that, and they’re applying for new marketing authorization to sell “black market” cartridges that contain synthetic nicotine and chemicals. They’re also trying to find ways to bypass the F.D.A.’s approval process. So, while the agency’s enforcement efforts are making some headway, it will take time for them to completely take effect. In the meantime, the flavored vapes are still appealing to teenagers and children.