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Keeping Families Safe: Vaping

Smoking and vaping may be unhealthy and addictive and pose health risk to lungA fairly new product, e-cigarettes have increased in popularity the last few years captivating youth with their sleek devices and “fun” flavors. Little is known about these products and the long-term health effects of their use. However, they do contain nicotine and should not be used by anyone under 18 years old.

It’s important that parents, guardians, and educators become familiar with what e-cigarettes are and the warning signs that a child may be vaping. Help create awareness of this issue by reviewing the information below and sharing it with your family, friends, and community members.

What are e-cigarettes?

  • Electronic cigarettes, e-pens, e-pipes, e-hookah, and e-cigars are known collectively as ENDS— electronic nicotine delivery systems.
  • When activated, the batteries within the e-cigarette heat up metal coils that transform vape juice into an aerosol. Vape juice is made up of liquid nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals.

Vaping graphic from CDC showing Tanks & Mods, Rechargeable e-cigarette and Disposable e-cigarette

Source: CDC

Why is it so popular?

  • Compared to cigarettes, e-cigarettes offer a variety of “fun” flavors such as green apple, watermelon, and cotton candy, which appeal to a younger audience.
  • Due to the lack of research and regulation, e-cigarettes don’t have the same social stigma that regular cigarettes currently have.
  • Social media influencers and marketing strategies implemented by e-cigarette companies have also had an impact on their popularity among younger age groups.

What chemicals are found in an e-cigarette?

  • The aerosol that users breathe in can contain a number of harmful, cancer-causing chemicals including nicotine, ultrafine particles, diacetyl, volatile organic compounds, and heavy metals.
  • Due to a lack of regulation, it is difficult to know what chemicals are found in an e-cigarette and how these chemicals vary from one brand to another.
    • One study found over 42 chemicals in an e-cigarette pod, 20 of these were identified as harmful to the respiratory and cardiovascular system.
  • Nicotine concentrations also vary between e-cigarettes, some have been found to be 5 to 8 times higher than in normal cigarettes.
    • One JUULpod can contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
    • Nicotine can have significant negative impacts on the brain development of children and young adults.
  • THC, the chemical compound in marijuana that produces the high, has also been found in e-cigarettes.
    • THC found in vapes is usually at a much higher concentration.
    • Marijuana use can harm the developing brain and impact attention, learning, and memory.
    • Long-term use can contribute to anxiety and depression.

E-Cigarette or Vaping Product Use Associated Lung Injury (EVALI)

  • As of January 2020, a total of 2,711 people from all 50 states have been hospitalized with EVALI; 60 deaths have been confirmed in 27 states.
  • Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, and stomach pains.
  • THC and Vitamin E acetate containing e-cigarette products from informal sources are strongly linked to most EVALI cases.
    • Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive and carrier oil for THC.

Warning signs that your child may be vaping

  • Finding unusual or unfamiliar items.
    • Vaping devices come with detachable parts such as reusable tanks (to hold the vape juice), atomizers, coils, lithium batteries, and chargers.
  • Changes in behavior, mood swings, and agitation.
    • Nicotine diminishes the prefrontal cortex of a young brain which adjusts emotional control, decision making, and impulse regulation.
  • An increase in shortness of breath.
    • Trouble breathing during routine physical activities such as sports practice, gym class, etc.
  • Increased thirst or dehydration.
    • Propylene Glycol, an ingredient found in vape juice, is known to absorb and hold water molecules and is the primary cause of dehydration.
    • Frequent vaping can also cause dry mouth.
  • Nosebleeds and mouth sores.
    • Excessive vaping can inflame the mouth and nose tissue.
    • Vaping aerosol can also cause throat irritation causing users to cough or clear their throat frequently.
  • Caffeine sensitivity.
    • Consumption of caffeinated drinks (coffee, energy drinks, etc.) may be followed by increased mood swings and anxiety.

Statistics and Trends

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that e-cigarettes are not safe for youth.
  • 20% (5 million) of all youth use e-cigarettes, a 135% increase in just two years.
  • 51% of Arizona high school students have tried a vaping device.
  • Teens who vape are four times more likely to start smoking cigarettes.
  • Teens who smoke cigarettes are seven times more likely to use other drugs.
  • Addiction is a disease with adolescent origins: 90% of people who have an addiction started to smoke cigarettes and use drugs before they were 18 years old.

Is it legal?

  • Vaping is not legal for anyone under 18 in Arizona; A.R.S. 37.8.9 states that a person who violates the prohibition is guilty of committing a petty offense.

General School Policies

  • Possession or use of tobacco products including e-cigarettes, other chemical inhalation devices, or aerosol products are prohibited at school and any other school-sponsored event.
  • No student shall sell, transfer, or offer to sell aerosol released substance containing a toxic substance.
  • No alcohol, drugs, synthetic drugs, counterfeit drugs, or imitation drugs on school property.
  • Suspension and expulsion for a repeated violation.

Resources

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