SCHOOLS CAN HELP ADDRESS THE VAPING EPIDEMIC

Vaping has become increasingly popular with teenagers, spiking to 5.4 million middle and high school users in 2019. This habit has become popularized for many reasons. Vapes are trendy, do not have the stigma that traditional cigarettes do, and are sold in flavors that attract young buyers. Vape use can be subtle and scentless, making it easy for young people to vape without others knowing. They are also incredibly addictive, as they still contain nicotine as traditional cigarettes and are easy to use as they come with nicotine cartridges in various flavors and concentrations. Reports say that 1 out of 4 teenagers has vaped. Although vaping can seem like an attractive alternative to traditional cigarettes, it still has long-lasting and concerning effects on users’ health. 

To provide an environment conducive to teaching and learning, schools must take the initiative to educate their students about the dangers of vaping. Teenagers’ brains are still developing, and their desire to take risks regardless of the outcome is at an all-time high in their middle and high school years. Therefore, when an attractive, trendy alternative to cigarette smoking hit the market, it was a no-brainer that young people would want to be the first to try out this “cool” product. 

Students primarily want to vape in settings where they are not being supervised by adults but can be observed by peers. This behavior will attempt to boost their social status while avoiding getting in trouble. Although it can be challenging to identify and crack down on vape use since it can be hidden and subtle, educators can teach young people about the adverse effects of vape use. They can create dialogue and complete anti-vaping courses that present information on the seemingly harmless peer pressure that can result in lasting health problems. 

Several additional reasons outline why schools should teach young people about vapes’ harmful lasting effects. 

 •     Vape Devices are as Addictive as Cigarettes

Teenagers make assumptions that vaping is less addictive than traditional cigarettes. However, the contrary is true – vaping is as addictive as smoking. One vape cartridge contains approximately the same amount of nicotine as twenty (20) cigarettes. Teenagers may assume that vaping is less harmful than traditional cigarette smoking because it does not produce smelly smoke. The misconceptions that vaping is not addictive or dangerous often lead to continual use, leading to an addictive habit.  

•      Vaping Negative Health Effects

A habit of vaping can cause one’s health to decline. Vaping can create problems that are not traditionally seen in young people. These health issues can likely cause severe health problems when vaping devices continue to be used. In addition to nicotine, vapes are filled with toxic substances, leading to numerous health issues. Vape use can heighten blood pressure, make a more rapid heart rate, and significantly increase the likelihood that one could have a heart attack. These are not typical health effects for young people to experience, especially when they are used to leading healthy lifestyles. However, when young people use vaping devices recreationally, they can experience all or some of these adverse health effects. The more we teach young people how vaping can decrease their overall health, the more they will think twice before using the device. 

•      Vaping Can Have Deadly Consequences

One of vaping’s scariest and nerve-wracking characteristics is that they seem harmless. The devices are small and often look like portable computer flash drives. It is easy for the uninformed individual to think these devices are harmless when passed around the school bathrooms, classrooms, or outside of school. After all, they don’t have any REAL smoke coming from them- how bad can they really be? In fact, the use of these devices can have devastating consequences. Since vape use has been on the rise, there has also been a spike in deaths and lung injuries associated with vape use. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that 68 deaths and 2,807 vape-related lung injuries were reported in February 2020. During a time of discovery, excitement, and hope for the future, young people should not have to withstand the lifelong effects that begin as a social habit. Many young people are highly active and at peaks in their athletic careers; however, vape use can harm this success. The effects of vape use can be long-lasting and sometimes fatal, and therefore we must give young people all the knowledge possible to make better decisions when offered the choice to vape.

Vaping is exceptionally subtle and often difficult to identify in schools due to the devices’ lack of smell and small packaging. Therefore, it becomes critical that educators do everything they can to stop it when it is observed. We need to provide our young people with the education and awareness to make informed and wise decisions about vape use. In a time when peer pressure is at its highest, providing a base of knowledge to draw from can be the determining factor in whether students become addicted to vaping. Schools have a captive audience with students and can positively impact students’ decisions not to vape. VapeEducate provides schools worldwide with the necessary resources to provide healthy, productive, and supportive learning environments for their students. VapeEducate can help your school, too.  

Sources

https://www.lung.org/quit-smoking/helping-teens-quit/vape-free-schools

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-truths-you-need-to-know-about-vapin

5 SIGNS TO SHOW THAT YOUR CHILD IS VAPING

It is safe to agree that parenting is well and truly the toughest and most complicated job in the world. If most parents had their way, their children would stay young forever. This is because as children begin their teenage years and eventually grow into adulthood, the task of parenting becomes monumentally difficult. 

Nowadays, the level of peer pressure between teens can only be referred to as crazy. It is no news that at the teen level, children tend to be as adventurous as they possibly can in an effort to tick off their “bucket list”. During this stage (usually between 13 and 19), children develop and mature physically, emotionally, mentally, morally and socially. This is the period during which your child struggles to build an identity or personality, and the identity he/she tries is influenced monumentally by the environment and social pressures. One of such social pressures which is rapidly gaining popularity is the issue of vaping.

What is Vaping?

The legalization of cannabis in various parts of the United States and the world, in general, has inherently led to the growth of the vaping industry. In recent years,  vaping – the act of inhaling and exhaling or vapor (aerosol) through the use of hand-held battery-powered devices such as e-cigarettes, pens, and pods – has taken the world, youths especially by storm. Its increasing popularity has led to continuous innovation in an effort to create the best and most comfortable method of vaping, which is considered by teens nowadays as a form of bonding, association or fun.

What most people do not know is that vaping is seriously harmful to health. Most of the liquids (commonly referred to as e-juice or e-liquid) vaporized and inhaled from these devices contain nicotine and other additives which are harmful upon ingestion. Vaping, just like traditional cigarettes, comes with a plethora of negative effects including asthma and bronchitis. In addition, it also negatively impacts the development of the brain thereby impacting memory, learning, and focus. Vaping is also a doorway to the consumption of more addictive and illicit drugs. A report published by the CDC confirms that over 4.9 million middle and high school students acknowledged their use of tobacco in 2018, a steep increase from the reported 3.6 million students in 2017. 

Due to constant innovation, devices used for vaping (or Juuling as it is sometimes called) are increasingly inconspicuous in look and size, and as such, it is easier for teens to conveniently hide this habit. Also, most vaping devices produce an odorless or flavored smell which makes it increasingly difficult for parents to detect. So, it might be difficult to know whether or not your child vapes, after all, the adventurous nature of teens makes them open to experimentation every now and then.

How then can you know whether or not your child is vaping?

Signs to Show that Your Child is Vaping

As previously mentioned, the vaping industry is constantly innovating and improving vaping devices in an effort to enhance the experience and keep selling. And because teens are the primary consumers of these products, it is important for them to make products that are inconspicuous in size, look, and smell. This, however, does not mean that it is impossible to know whether or not your child is vaping. 

With a little bit of vigilance, you can tell for sure whether or not your child is vaping by looking for the following signs.

  • Nose bleeding. 

During vaping, vapor (vaporized e-juice) is pulled from the device into the mouth and then exhaled through the nostrils. Due to the lack of moisture during exhalation, the skin of the nose dries up and eventually cracks and bleeds. Also, e-liquids contain dehydrating chemicals that dry up the inside of the nose, triggering frequent nosebleeds. If your child suffers from frequent nose bleeds, you might want to check twice to make sure it is not as a result of vaping.

  • Constant Thirst

This is a somewhat common sign of vaping. People who vape suffer from dehydration – it is a pretty common side effect. One of the chemicals used in making e-juice is Propylene Glycol. This chemical has a dehydrating effect as research has discovered that it holds water molecules in, making absorption by the body impossible. As a result, the vaper is left constantly in need of water to rehydrate the body. So, if you see your child increasingly craving liquids or urinating more often, there is a high chance he/she might be vaping.

  • Vaper’s Tongue

The name itself is self-explicit – the tongue of a vaper. To enjoy the flavor of food requires moisture. This explains why we salivate when we perceive the aroma and taste of food. A dry mouth loses its perception of flavour. Constant vaping compromises this perception of flavor because of its ability to dehydrate and dry up moisture. The absence of flavor perception as a result of vaping is what is referred to as Vaper’s Tongue. So, if your teen suddenly starts enjoying unusually spicy foods or keeps reaching for the salt during meals, this may be a sign that he/she is a vaper.

  • Avoiding Caffeine

Combining caffeine and nicotine (found in most vaping devices) may sometimes lead to increased levels of anxiety and/or mood swings. This might cause someone who usually takes coffee or soda to suddenly start avoiding these to reduce these effects. So, if you notice that your child suddenly stops gulping sodas or Starbucks, it could be a call for concern. 

  • Abnormal Pens and Devices

For convenience sake, most vaping and Juuling devices come in a variety of forms. While some resemble traditional pipes, cigars, and cigarettes, others look like pens and USB sticks. Juuls, for example, look like sleek USB sticks and are very inconspicuous. Despite their similarities, most of these devices still look abnormal and unusual. So, if you come across such devices in your home, you should consider it as a red flag.

Apart from the signs discussed above, there are still a number of signs you might want to look for when suspecting your child of vaping – sleep disturbances, unusual emotional tantrums, unexplained sweet scents, pneumonia and discarded Juul pods and atomizers. The most important thing to do, however, is to educate our children on how risky vaping truly is. Most of them vape for fun with little or no knowledge of the inherent risk. 

While others argue that vaping is better than smoking, the World Health Organization stresses the effects of vaping and even goes ahead to suggest that vaping is a gateway to addiction for teens and young adults. It is therefore important to help educate our children on this issue by creating Vape Education Programs geared towards helping children learn about the dangers of vaping. 

Sources

https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/youth-and-tobacco/2018-nyts-data-startling-rise-youth-e-cigarette-use

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/for-parents/articles/2018-07-27/how-to-tell-if-your-kid-is-vaping

https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/HealthU/2019/04/02/signs-that-your-kid-may-be-vaping/