Vaping is a new trend that has increased rapidly in popularity, particularly among teenagers. Introduced as an alternative to smoking, vaping involves inhaling and exhaling nicotine that has been heated in a vaping device (such as an e-cigarette or a vape pen). This nicotine also contains flavoring and other chemicals. Not much is known about the chemicals found in vaping devices; while some consider them “safer” than traditional cigarettes, there are still risks from inhaling unknown and potentially harmful substances. For example, one substance found in flavoring cartridges has been linked to lung and respiratory issues.
Additionally, nicotine use is also unwise for teenagers, as it is addictive and leads to cravings and withdrawal. Nicotine also releases adrenaline and affects blood pressure, both of which create risks of a heart attack. In adolescent brains, nicotine can impact brain development, attention, and learning.
Vaping is particularly appealing to teenagers, who often believe it is a safe alternative to smoking. Vaping devices and cartridges are also more affordable per-use than cigarettes, and their sweet flavors appeal to a younger audience. Experimentation often leads to regular use, and studies suggest that teens who vape are more likely to use traditional cigarettes later in life.
The newest numbers show teenage vaping is on the rise. In a recent survey of 13,000 participants, the percentage of 12thgraders who reported vaping in the past year rose from 11% in 2017 to 20.9% in 2018. For 10thgraders, the number jumped from 8.2% to 16.1%. Vaping also increased in 8thgraders, of whom 3.5% reported vaping in 2017 and 6.1% reported use in 2018. Overall, the researchers reported vaping is the largest one-year increase in substance use in the 44 years they have collected data on the topic.