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E-Cigarettes & Teens: What You Should Know

E-Cigarettes & Teens: What You Should Know
Posted on 06/01/2018

E-cigarettesRecently, Wheat Ridge High School students and Jeffco’s Healthy Schools staff were interviewed as part of a Colorado Public Radio story on the alarming rise of e-cigarette use among teens. Click here to see the JPS-TV video featuring these students, which was referenced in the article.

Jeffco Public Schools is taking this health threat very seriously and is currently implementing a range of education and prevention strategies in schools. We wanted to provide parents and caregivers with information that would be helpful for conversations about vaping that may take place at home.

E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth in the U.S., which is concerning for many reasons. As a new nicotine product, we have no idea what the long-term impacts of use will be. What we do know about short-term health impacts is very troubling, especially for youth.You should know that:

  • E-cigarettes, including JUUls, do not contain water. Vaping devices produce an aerosol that contains a combination of nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals.
  • Researchers consistently find traces of nicotine in liquids claiming to be nicotine-free. Note that JUUL pods do not come in a nicotine free version.
  • Vape companies insist that chemicals used in e-liquids are “food grade.” It’s important to know, however, that there is almost no information about whether the chemicals are safe to breathe in. What we do know is that vaping is linked to increased coughing, wheezing, and asthma symptoms in teens. 
  • Nicotine is highly addictive and ongoing use changes the structure of the adolescent brain in big ways. Be aware that youth who use e-cigarettes are much more likely to begin using combustible cigarettes within as little as six months, even if they have never smoked. 

Jeffco’s Healthy Schools Program has been updating the tobacco and cessation pages with current information on vaping and e-cigarettes. Click here to see what’s available and find additional links to information about the risks associated with teen e-cigarette use. Often students don’t know where to go for good information about how vaping can impact their health, so they rely on content provided by companies with a financial stake in creating new users. To get your student to think more critically about “facts” they read on the Juul website or any other vape company site, here are some questions you can use to get them thinking:

  • What is the purpose of this site?
  • Who created the information at this site, and what is this person’s level of expertise?
  • When was the information on this site updated?
  • Where can I go to check the accuracy of this information?
  • Why did this person or group put this information on the internet?
  • Does the website present only one side of the issue, or are multiple perspectives provided?
  • How are information and/or images at this site shaped by the author’s stance?

Healthy Schools hopes you have a happy and healthy summer and we’ll see you in the fall!

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