The Dangers of E-Cigarettes and Vaping

Huge numbers of teens and tweens across the country are vaping, a term that refers to smoking e-cigarettes. What are these devices? Do they pose a serious health threat? What can you do as a concerned parent? The discussion below offers a quick take on these burning questions.

  • What Are E-Cigarettes?
    • E-cigarettes look like the traditional version, and they work in a similar way. While traditional smoking involves heating a cigarette with a flame and puffing out smoke, vaping involves heating an “e-cigarette” with a battery-operated heating element and puffing out vapor. Just as regular cigarettes contain nicotine, e-cigarettes contain a cartridge that holds nicotine along with other liquids.
    • To find out more, see “Vaping” Trend Among Middle & High School Students.
  • Are They Safe?
    • Nicotine from any product leads to addiction, which can produce withdrawal symptoms of depression, anxiety and irritability when a person stops using it. Over time, some research suggests that the chemical can harm arteries in strong enough doses, depending on context. Nicotine poisoning can also kill or severely debilitate.
    • The American Lung Association reports that e-cigarettes also contain cancer-causing chemicals, including formaldehyde and a component of antifreeze. In addition, they have flavors that oversight agencies haven’t proved safe for inhalation.
  • What Can Concerned Parents Do?
    • Before your children reach middle school age, start talking to them about the dangers and adverse health effects of nicotine. Let them know cigarettes cause powerful addiction, which makes it difficult to quit the habit.
    • If you engage in vaping, store the e-liquid out of the reach of children. Most importantly of all, if you smoke, take measures to quit immediately.

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