Use of e-cigs, or vaping, has increased in teenagers dramatically. Anecdotally I have seen a tremendous upswing in the number of teens using nicotine and marijuana ever since electronic cigarettes came out. It has been particularly pronounced in the last two years. Apparently studies support this. Studies also show that use of e-cigs has a high correlation to eventual cigarette use.
Check out this infographic from National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes on Health; and the US Department of Health and Human Services.
This should warn us all that adolescents are much more willing to try vaping than cigarettes. Since they were small children, teens have been socialized to think cigarette smoking is “disgusting,” and “dangerous.” Because vaping smells much better (if it smells at all), and because most teenagers aren’t aware of the dangers, some try it. They truly think they’re inhaling water vapor. This is simply not true.
A study was just released from the University of California at San Francisco that definitively links e-cig use to cancer causing toxins. The saliva and urine was tested in non-using teens, vaping-only teens, and teens who both smoke cigarettes and vape. While the highest amounts of the toxins were in the group the used both, a significant amount was also in the group that vaped. The group who didn’t use at all didn’t have these toxins in their bodies. More on the report written about this study can be found at http://abcnews.go.com/Health/teens-cigarettes-show-evidence-toxic-chemicals-smokers-study/story?id=53537714.
Here’s the bottom line: vaping is very dangerous for your adolescents. The devices used to vape can look like a USB stick, wifi connector, credit card, a tiny black square, fancy pen, highlighter, etc. You won’t smell smoke either. You have to ask your teen outright, and keep track of their social media pictures. If you suspect your teen might be vaping, but they won’t tell you the truth and you can’t definitively pin it on them, call their pediatrician. They can order a nicotine test on your child (which won’t cover everything that can be vaped, but it will tell you quite a lot).
If you need to talk more about your teen’s potential addiction, we’re here to help. Give us a call.
Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT