Vaping: Have You Talked to Your Kids?


    A type of e-cigarette. (Photo courtesy of flickr Creative Commons user wstryder.)

    It’s becoming increasingly common to see someone “vaping” (smoking) an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) or to encounter one of the many e-cigarette stores around town during your daily routine. While teens aren’t the intended target for this alternative form of smoking, a new Center for Disease Control (CDC) report shared by The Partnership at Drugfree.orgindicates teen e-cigarette use has doubled from 2011-2012. To help you keep your kids safe and healthy, DrugFreeAz.org helps you understand the vaping game changers for parents.

    So, what’s the big deal about kids vaping? What is being inhaled through an e-cigarette can range from flavored vapor to liquid nicotine. By using liquids, it’s not always clear-cut for parents to know what’s inside. If we are dealing with nicotine, the CDC is red-flagging this substance as a danger to our teens for its impact on teen brain development and its ability to lead to nicotine addiction and further use of other tobacco products (as reported in The Partnership at Drugfree.org’s article “Use of E-Cigarettes Among Middle and High School Students Doubles”).

    Plus, marijuana use should be another concern for parents. As you might have read in our September e-news, there are now other products available, such as a G-Pen, that look similar to e-cigarettes, but that are intended for marijuana use. With e-cigarettes becoming more common, G-Pen users are hoping to blend in with e-cigarette smokers and not get caught. This is another reason why it’s critical for parents to inspect devices you aren’t sure about and not automatically assume you’re dealing with a regular e-cigarette.

    3 Vaping Game Changers For Parents to Know

    • Prevention Talk

    If you’ve already talked to your kids about the dangers of cigarette use, it’s time to have an updated prevention talk that includes your family’s stance on e-cigarette devices. In this discussion, expand your family policy (set of behavior rules and expectations) to reflect your family’s stance on e-cigarette use and the consequences if this rule is broken.


    This conversation with your kids should also address the potential dangers of e-cigarettes and you should be your kids’ accurate source of information. Kids could perceive this method of nicotine use safer than a regular cigarette and may not understand health risks that are still present. It’s also important for you and your family to know Arizona’s laws regarding possession and sales of e-cigarettes to minors.

    • Use Tools

    With traditional cigarettes you’re used to looking for a pack and a lighter. Now parents need to expand their radar and be aware of any electronic cigarette or pen-like devices, in addition to chargers and liquid bottles. Depending on the e-cigarette model and brand, its style and size can vary. Plus, e-cigarettes can be purchased online, so don’t forget to check Internet browser histories and incoming mail.

    • Telltale Signs

    When your teen comes home, we encourage parents to be aware of any red flags that the teen had been using drugs, alcohol or cigarettes while out. With regular cigarette use, this would include a smoke odor. E-cigarettes eliminate this telltale indicator, so don’t assume that because you don’t smell anything that there isn’t a chance your child is using an e-cigarette device.


    E-Cigarettes & Vapes


    What AreThey and What Do They Look Like? 

    E-cigarettes and vapor pens have various designs, but they all include a battery, a heating element called an atomizer, and a liquid nicotine cartridge. 

    Street Names: 

    E-cig, E-juice, E-liquid, Vapes, Juice, Smoke Juice, Mods, PV (Personal Vaporizer), Ego

    Short and Long Term Effects: 

    Nicotine is addictive. Studies have shown short term effects to the lungs similar to the effects of regular cigarettes. Little is known of the long term effects. 

    Every Parent Should Know: 

    These devices allow the user to inhale the nicotine or other drug producing a low-odor, smokeless vapor. Manufacturers add flavoring and use packaging that is attractive to youth. The liquid nicotine can be absorbed through the skin and poses a danger to young children who become exposed. Some of these devices can be used to vaporize hash oil or dry marijuana leaves.


    Have you been out to a restaurant or an indoor establishment recently and noticed clouds of smoke in the air? With no-smoking laws in effect for years, does the appearance of smoke seem confusing? 

    What you may not know is this “smoke” is often coming from e-cigarettes and/or vaporizers. You may think that these two devices are the same, but there are some differences.

    E-cigarettes are electronic devices that look like a regular cigarette. They include a heating element, battery and a disposable liquid nicotine cartridge (available in variety of flavors) that produces a smokeless and low-odor vapor.

    Vaporizers, or vape pens, are battery or USB charged devices that are often the size of a fountain pen and use a different “filter” to generate the vapor from liquid nicotine that can can be refilled within the device. Vape pens produce large, puffy clouds of vapor, whereas e-cigarettes give off smaller amount of vapor, looking more like an actual cigarette exhale.

    There is not a lot of data regarding the health effects of either yet, but both of these devices allow the chemicals to be heated and sent straight to the lungs, which is then quickly absorbed into the blood stream and could still cause harm.  No form of smoking is a healthy behavior, so it is important to educate your children about the dangers of inhaling any substance.