I realize I may be a little late to the party on this one but I just recently became aware of one of the latest teen crazes, “vaping”. E-pens, vape pens, e-Hookahs, and hookah pens are some of the more popular names for these devices which come in vibrant colors to catch a teen’s attention. They’re devices with a small inner coil that slowly heats, creating a vapor that is inhaled. I’ve known about e-cigarettes for a while now and was aware of their use by people trying to quit smoking.
I was not aware of how popular they’ve become with teenagers and that has me fuming mad! My son, like most kids these days, finds smoking disgusting. He’s been taught, for years, about the dangers of cigarettes and how they could kill you. He’s seen the graphic antismoking commercials and thankfully got the message. Now, I’m afraid that message could go up in smoke thanks to vape pens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that e-cigarette use among high schoolers jumped from 4.5% in 2013 to 13.4% in 2014 — tripling in just one year. Not so surprising when you take a look around your neighborhood and find stores that sell the electronic devices popping up just about everywhere. Making it even more attractive to teens, the oils or “e-liquids” which come in fun flavors like bubble gum, chocolate and watermelon. Granted, many of the oils claim to be nicotine-free but are currently unregulated by the U.S. Government. Unlike the tobacco industry, there is no national legislation regarding the marketing and selling of e-cigarettes and their ingredients.
E-cigarettes are known to deliver high levels of nanoparticles — tiny particles that can trigger inflammation. Dr. Metee Dr. Comkornruecha, a physician with the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, says this could cause health issues for teens using the devices.
“These products are marketed as harmless, but they are far from it. Even though E-cigarettes do not contain the same carcinogens inhaled from burning tobacco, they still may contain other toxic ingredients or carcinogens. Teenagers can also be exposed to nicotine, an extremely addictive substance, which could lead to them smoking conventional cigarettes as well.”
Of even greater concern to me, the possibility that vaporizer pens could lead to drug use among teens. According to a story on CNN, people are using vape pens to discreetly get high on marijuana and other drugs — at times right under the noses of police, parents and teachers. You see, the vapor pens mask the drug’s smell. Before, if your teen was smoking marijuana, the stench would give them away, allowing parents the opportunity to intervene. Now, with electronic devices, there’s no way to know for sure.
“It’s the concealment method; we don’t know what is in a vape pen until we actually have it tested by a forensic laboratory,” says Supervisory Special Agent John Scherbenske of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in an interview with CNN.
So how can we tell if our kids are vaping? I found some signs to look for while searching the internet. For more go to “5 Signs Your Kid is Vaping”
For now, I’m hoping an open communication and education will help keep our son from using a vape pen. If you’d like to discuss the topic with your kids, consider watching the video, “Do Vape Pens Trick Teens?” together. It has some helpful information and food for thought.
Beatriz Canals is an Emmy nominated journalist and proud mom. She has a 12 year old son, Andres and 24 year old step-daughter, Victoria.