There is an increasing trend in the use of vapour products among youth. Vaping is becoming more prominent among this demographic due to a wide range of convenient devices, appealing flavours and loosely regulated marketing. The 2017 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey (CTADS) indicated that 23 per cent of Canadian youth, aged 15-19 years old, have tried e-cigarettes (vaping products). The tempting flavours and social media influence, along with perceived trendiness often lands vaping products in the hands of teenagers and young Canadians. These products are far from harmless and we’re here to provide some tips for parents to help their kids navigate through this smoky trend.
What are vapour products?
Vapour products are battery powered devices that heat a liquid solution to deliver an aerosol that the users inhale. The liquid inside the cartridge is called e-liquid or e-juice, which often contains a carrier solvent of propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerol, nicotine and flavours consisting of chemicals and other harmful substances.
The array of vapour products include: e-cigarettes, vapes, vape pens, mods, tank systems, e-hookahs. These devices do not contain tobacco and do not involve combustion. Using a vapour product is commonly referred to as ‘vaping’ or ‘juuling’.
What are the health effects associated with using vapour products?
- The Lung Association is concerned with the emerging evidence of lung health damage caused by vapour products. Although long-term health effects are not completely known, short-term health effects include coughing, sneezing, worsening of asthma symptoms and increased heart rate.
- Vapour products often contain nicotine, which can have harmful effects.
- Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and vaping nicotine could result in symptoms of dependence.
- It can harm adolescents’ brain development and affect learning, memory and concentration. [i]
- Acute nicotine exposure can be toxic. Children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing or absorbing vape liquid.
- Nicotine may increase the risk of future addiction to tobacco.
What are the appeals of vaping to youth?
Vaping appeals to youth for a variety of reasons, primarily a sense of curiosity and an appealing range of flavours and devices offered. The habit tends to spread among peers as it is viewed as a cool and rebellious activity. So, how can parents talk to their kids about vaping?
Vaping products should only be used by people who smoke and are looking to quit smoking, as vaping is less harmful than smoking. However, vaping is harmful for people who have never smoked and it is not safe for youth to use any nicotine products, including cigarettes and vaping products.
TIPS FOR PARENTS
What can parents do to protect their children from vaping?
- Have an open conversation with your children to discuss the risks involved with using vapour products, try to ask leading questions instead of being confrontational or inquisitive.
- Encourage an ongoing dialogue about the subject while relying on scientific facts as well as personal experiences including past exposures and negative impact.
- Continue to communicate with and obtain support from external resources including health care providers, school teachers and counselors.
- Lead by example; do not engage in smoking or vaping around the household and try to set the standard for a healthy lifestyle.
- In circumstances where the youth have already started vaping, work with them in a composed manner to encourage replacing the behaviour with a healthy activity.
[i] Health Canada