According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1,600 cases of lung injury associated with use of an e-cigarette or vaping product have been reported. Vaping products that contain THC (one of the active components of cannabis that affects brain activity), particularly those that have been obtained on the street, are linked to most of the outbreaks. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC have not been able to identify the exact cause or causes of these recent lung injuries but can confirm all of these cases have e-cigarette or vape use in common.
Vaping is a widespread issue and it may be difficult to know if your teen is affected as vapes are easily concealed. Vaping is popular with teens because of the variety of flavors. The amount of nicotine in an e-cigarette is the same as in a pack of 20 cigarettes. This is especially concerning for teens, as their brains are still developing and are more susceptible to nicotine addiction.
Vaping is associated with a number of health risks
- Lung damage
- Slowed brain development in teens
- Negative effects on concentration, memory, attention, and mood
- Increased risk of other types of addiction
- Possible death
What we do and don’t know about e-cigarettes
What we know
- E-cigarettes are battery-powered smoking devices and nicotine affects brain development in children and adolescents.
- Most contain liquid consisting of nicotine, THC, cannabinoid (CBD) oils, and other substances and additives.
- The vapor in e-cigarettes contain aerosolized oil and other harmful chemicals that change the membranes in our lungs where oxygen is exchanged with blood.
What we don’t know
- The long-term health effects of e-cigarettes to determine if the liquid is harmful or not.
- The direct cause of lung injuries pertaining to vaping and how vaping changes the immune system.
- The effects of flavor chemicals and combinations.
- Do not use e-cigarettes or any vaping products, especially those containing THC.
- Do not modify or add any substances to these products.
- Use FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies as opposed to e-cigarettes.
Tips for talking to your teen about vaping
- Stress the social and financial impact vaping has on users.
- Reinforce the fact that vapes are addictive and help them understand the signs of nicotine addiction and withdrawal.
- Provide the facts about lung cancer, safety issues, and long-term effects on the brain, heart, and lungs.
Encourage your teen to quit vaping by having them discard all vaping supplies. You can have them write down a list of reasons why they want to quit, create a timeline of steps, and ensure they have a supportive network of friends and family. Your child’s pediatrician is a good source of knowledge and together, we can help a create a plan of action. If your teen needs to quit vaping, visit Pediatric Services at Phelps or call 914-425-7590.
If you or someone you know vapes and is experiencing symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, or weight loss, call a doctor. For more information on quitting smoking or vaping, visit Phelps Hospital or reach out to the national quit helpline at 877-44U-QUIT (877-448-7848).