Vaping: Should You Be Worried?

Whether it’s curiosity, experimentation, enjoying the flavours, “everyone else is doing it,” thinking that it’s less harmful, enjoying “vape tricks” or using it as a weight management tool, vaping is on the rise among young people. It’s critical for parents, guardians, and youth leaders to know the facts, warning signs and ways to help. 


“Among youth, e-cigarettes are more popular than any traditional tobacco product. In 2015, the U.S. surgeon general reported that e-cigarette use among high school students had increased by 900%, and 40% of young e-cigarette users had never smoked regular tobacco.”1

















One study, in 2018, found that 1 in 5 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the past month.2


The problem is that young people are particularly vulnerable to e-cigarette use because they think they are less harmful, they are cheaper than traditional cigarettes, and vape cartridges come in fun, enticing flavors such as apple pie and watermelon. E-cigarettes are also appealing to young people because they often find the smoke appealing, there is no smell which reduces the stigma and they are easier to hide.1


What is vaping?


Electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) are battery operated smoking devices that contain cartridges that contain nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. When the liquid in the cartridges are heated, they turn into a vapor, which a person inhales – this is called vaping. Some individuals can also use e-cigarettes to vape marijuana, THC oil and other dangerous chemicals.3  Young people can also vape alcohol and this is equivalent to taking several shots in a matter of a few seconds.4


“E-cigarettes are known by many different names. They are sometimes called “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” “tank systems,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems 

(ENDS).” 5


What’s wrong with vaping?


While e-cigarettes haven’t been around long enough for us to fully know the health problems, there have been some serious reports of lung damage and some deaths. The nicotine found in vaping is also highly addictive; can slow brain development which affects memory, concentration, learning, self-control, attention and mood; increases the risk of other types of addictions; and can irritate the lungs.1


Vaping can also become very addictive. “The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) analysed 150 products. The study found almost all contained ethanol, and more than half had at least 10 percent more or less nicotine than indicated on packaging. One contained bacteria usually found in the mouth” Gill Bonnett.6 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 60 deaths related to vaping as of January 2020. According to Michael Blaha, M.D., M.P.H., director of clinical research at John Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, “these cases appear to predominantly affect people who modif[ied] their vaping devices or use[d] black market modified e-liquids. This is especially true for vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”7 

What are the warning sings?


E-cigarettes come in many different forms. One of the most concerning forms is the Juul which looks like a flash drive, which can be charged in a laptop’s USB port and creates less smoke. For this reason, many teens will use a Juul vape – one pod contains the same nicotine levels as a full pack of cigarettes.1 

include new health issues, behaviour changes, unusual objects around, weird smells, and the use of vaping lingo with friends. Health issues can include asthma or respitory symptoms, nosebleeds, increased thirst, sleep changes, and minor taste loss (“vape tongue”).  Behaviour changes could include anxiety, irritability, forgetfulness, and impulsivity. Strange items found around your house could be vape devices which come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There’s even a hooded sweatshirt with vape drawstrings. If you smell sweet or strange odors this could also be a warning sign. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a ban on almost all flavored vaping cartridges in January 2020, youth can still find flavored marijuana e-liquids in some states. Finally, suspicious behaviour or conversations with friends can be a tell-tale sign. Popular phrases include “stealth mode,” “dab,” and “ghost.” Check out the Truth Initiatives Vaping Lingo Dictionary for more terms.8 


What are some ways to help?


As always, one of the best things you can do to help young people is to have open, honest conversations. Talk about why vaping is harmful and ask thought provoking questions. Share the dangers of nicotine and addictions. 


Be a good role model by being careful to not use e-cigarettes yourself and by 

ensuring that children are not exposed to second-hand emissions from tobacco products.  


Speaking to your child’s doctor may also help, as they can provide resources and support to help young people quit. 


Remember that safer, doesn’t 

necessarily mean safe. - PP


Still have questions? Check out the following resources for more information and support: 









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*Previously published in PROTECT publication issue 8

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