What Parents Need to Know About the Rise of Vaping & E-Cigarettes Among Teenagers

Laura Quinn
Teacher, parent, and CCA Discipleship Leader, Laura Quinn, provides parents with what they need to know about vaping and e-cigarettes.

I will never forget when my friend Sam got caught with cigarettes in 8th grade. His dad made him smoke the entire pack; he got so sick he gets nauseous to this day at even the faintest smell of cigarette smoke.

Most parents are aware of the highly detrimental and addictive nature of cigarettes and many of us would go to great lengths to ensure our children never begin the habit of smoking. But there is a new nicotine-driven epidemic sweeping the nation that the FDA admittedly says they were caught “flat-footed” and “unprepared for”—e-cigarettes, AKA vaping. The trend is now sweeping through the teen population at an alarming rate thanks to internet and YouTube “influencers” who promote these products as part of a carefully curated brand, so that your teen watches and emulates them.
The total number of middle and high school students currently using e-cigarettes rose to 3.6 million between 2017 and 2018.
Marketed as a “safe alternative to smoking,” students are quickly becoming addicted to vaping. The FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, released a statement that should affirm parents’ concerns about the issue. “From 2017 to 2018, there was a 78 percent increase in current e-cigarette use among high school students and a 48 percent increase among middle school students,” said Dr. Gottlieb. "The total number of middle and high school students currently using e-cigarettes rose to 3.6 million — that’s 1.5 million more students using these products than the previous year. Additionally, more than a quarter (27.7 percent) of high school current e-cigarette users are using the product regularly (on 20 or more days in the past month).”

The same statement includes Dr. Gottlieb’s commitment to double the FDA’s efforts to stop kids from using e-cigarettes and to greatly restrict access to these items over the counter and in retail convenience stores. The FDA has also drastically cut advertising that appears to be specifically aimed at teens. They admit, however, that much of the damage has been done as the speed of internet has already multiplied and intensified the effect of these targeted campaigns. The concern is the appeal of the flavored cartridges that masks the nicotine-heavy contents. One Juul (a popular brand) cartridge contains as much nicotine as a full pack of 20 cigarettes. Students are vaping anywhere from a half to a whole cartridge a day. Dr. Gottlieb also states, “The data shows that kids using e-cigarettes are going to be more likely to try combustible cigarettes later.”
Marketed as a “safe alternative to smoking,” students are quickly becoming addicted to vaping.
THC, the active psychotropic ingredient in marijuana, is now available in forms for e-cigarette consumption. The Center on Addiction states:

“Simply being aware that young people are using vaping devices to consume marijuana is important for parents. Parents should also know that:
  • Vaping THC does not produce the telltale smell that emerges when smoking marijuana through a joint, blunt, or pipe. Teens and young adults can use marijuana without being detected.

  • When people vape rather than smoke marijuana, they tend to consume even higher concentrations of THC, which means greater exposure to the drug's mind-altering and addictive ingredient."

There is a lot of misinformation among teens today, so it’s important for parents to help their children understand the risks of vaping and e-cigarettes in a gentle and loving way. For resources and advice on how to talk to your teen about this issue, read Walking and Talking Your Teen through the Vaping Epidemic.


Laura Quinn has served at CCA for 18 years and is currently the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) Department Head. She also serves on the High School Discipleship Team and Administration. She and her husband, David, have two daughters, Rebecca and Susannah, who both graduated from CCA.
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