SPECIAL TO THE FANNIN SENTINEL
Vaping, with its fun flavors and easy accessibility, may seem like a good alternative to smoking for many teens.
According to the latest data, about one fourth of the youths polled in the United States have tried the electronic cigarettes.
“Way more have said they’ve tried vaping than smoking,” says Dr. Melanie Menning, a family practice physician at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. “We’ve done a good job of teaching kids that cigarettes are bad. This is new and different, and the same risk perception is not there.”
Because it has become so popular only in the past few years, long-term effects are not known. But there is enough information to know that it’s not a good idea for your teen.
“Kids that vape are much more likely to pick up a cigarette,” Menning says. “There is pretty good data that it probably affects adolescent brain development.”
It also has some of the same heart risks as smoking. The chemicals in vaping liquids also are harmful to lung tissue and can trigger asthma attacks.
Don’t let your teen tell you there is no nicotine, so it’s not as bad as smoking.
“It appears that kids get higher levels of nicotine than with cigarettes,” Menning says. “It’s going to cause addiction.”
Menning works with several youths who vape and has these suggestions:
— Because people who vape don’t have that strong cigarette smell, it’s not so easy to tell if your teen is trying it. Make yourself aware of what e-cigarettes look like and how they can be purchased. Smoke shops aren’t allowed to sell to anyone under 18, but the electronic cigarettes can be purchased online.
Sit down with your children and make sure that they understand the risks that go along with vaping. Try to figure out why they want to do it. Is it peer pressure or an underlying anxiety?
— Voice your concern. Let your teen know where you stand. Menning says her biggest message is that inhaling chemicals into your lungs is not a good idea. “When e-cigarettes first came out, they were marketed as a safe alternative to cigarettes and a potential way to quit smoking. While studies are still ongoing, the FDA doesn’t approve of it as a method to quit smoking. Is vaping as bad as a cigarette? We don’t know. But it’s not good for your health.”