The increase in young people using e-cigarettes is an epidemic, according to Boulder County Public Health Officials. A recent Colorado study suggests 27% of surveyed minors regularly use the devices. Boulder County teens are vaping at a much higher rate -- 33%. And many may not even know they’re vaping highly addictive nicotine.
If you aren’t familiar with vaping, here is what you should know:
What is vaping?
Vaping is the act of inhaling a vapor that is produced by an e-cigarette or another device that heats liquid into an aerosol.
What’s in it?
The liquid or "vape juice/ e-juice" contains a variety of harmful chemicals including toxins, metals, contaminants, flavorings, and often (but not always) nicotine. The "juice" can be toxic if ingested or absorbed through the skin. Marijuana can also be vaped, which has become increasingly popular among high schoolers according to a study from the University of Michigan.
How harmful is it?
There is little information available about the long-term health effects or how other chemicals in the “juice” affect our health. But that doesn’t mean the risks don’t exist. Researchers compared teens who currently vape to lab rats, saying time will tell what will happen to their health in the future.
Rick Wood/ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Vaping devices are typically small, discreet, easy-to-use, and come in a variety of flavors, including mango and mint, which make them easily marketable to young people. Devices like the Juul, have become extremely popular among teens, including those who have never smoked.
A large percentage of teens in the University of Michigan study said they believed the vape juice only included flavoring. However many --including the Juul-- contain a large hit of nicotine. In fact, one Juul pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
Researchers found that kids who vape are four to five times more likely to use cigarettes in the following year than kids who don’t vape. This is leading experts to worry that a new generation of nicotine addiction may lead to an increase in cigarette use among teens.
Dean of students at Fairview High School, Jim Lefebvre, demonstrates vaping equipment to parents.
Nick Cote for The New York Times
Currently, BVSD is working with the county health department to provide presentations from nurses who are working in our high schools. They are leading the charge against vaping by developing a curriculum to help educate students, teachers, and parents on the potential risks.
For tips on how to talk to your kids about vaping, click here to read more