Vaping – the act of inhaling a vaporized liquid from an electronic device – is the latest trend, and it’s alarmingly prevalent among today’s teens.
Vaping is skyrocketing among teens
Nearly half of Colorado’s high school and middle school students have tried vaping, compared to about one in five who say they have smoked a cigarette or used marijuana, according to the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. (This state data is from 2015 and vaping has become much more high profile since then.)
Vaping has become such a problem that schools are sending warning messages home to parents, particularly cautioning parents about a new discrete brand called a JUUL, which is rapidly gaining popularity.
While the JUUL delivers a strong dose of highly addictive nicotine, Pax, the company that created the JUUL, makes similar devices designed for ultra high-potency marijuana. These products look like flash drives and, one Pax review notes, “You can turn the brightness of the LED down or off for an effective ‘stealth mode.’”
Kids can vape a lot of things – nicotine, flavoring and marijuana
There are hundreds of different vape products available, offering a range of ingredients including high levels of nicotine, chemical additives, flavorings and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. This makes it hard for parents to know what kids are vaping.
Here’s what marijuana magazine High Times tells its readers: “Weed smokers have known for a while that vaping is less odorous and doesn’t linger as long as smoke from combustion methods. But now, people who want to vape weed in public can just blend in with the e-cigarette users.”
It’s not just harmless water vapor
A lot of teens hear and repeat myths like “it’s just water vapor” – which is not true. Even if the vape devices don’t contain nicotine or marijuana, they still have other chemicals and flavorings that have not been deemed safe for inhalation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Vape products are hard to detect
Not only are vape products hard to detect if you see them in your kid’s backpack, but they don’t have the same obvious odor giveaway as smoking cigarettes and marijuana. In fact, many claim you can’t tell the difference between smelling secondhand vapor that contains marijuana and vapor that does not. And vaping is so easy to conceal, kids are actually doing it in class.
Vaping is designed to appeal to kids
Flavors are chosen that entice young appetites, like cookies & cream, cups o’ peanut butter and bubble gum. Stanford University compiled a startling gallery of photos comparing actual vape products to their sugar-coated candy and dessert inspirations.
Regardless of how they are ingested, nicotine and THC hurt kids’ developing brains. Vaping can provide very high concentrations of these drugs. For example, one JUUL pod has as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
In our next newsletter, we’ll talk more about today’s high-potency marijuana and its risks to youth. Today’s marijuana is not what parents remember so it’s important to stay informed. This post from the Parker Police Department illustrates what we’re up against as parents.