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The Dangers of Vaping

by Landmark Recovery

January 14, 2019
Dangers of Vaping

In November, the Food and Drug Administration and attorney general of Massachusetts investigated Juul Labs, makers of the popular e-cigarette device the Juul, to decide whether they deliberately advertised their products to teenagers.

In 2018, the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that vaping usage among teens reached new heights. According to the annual Monitoring the Future Survey, America’s teens reported a dramatic increase in their use of vaping devices in just a single year, with 37.3% of 12th graders reporting “any vaping” in the past 12 months, compared to just 27.8% in 2017.

Reported usage of vaping nicotine in the last 30 days almost doubled among high school seniors,increasing from 11% in 2017 to 20.9% in 2018. Currently, more than 1 in 10 8th graders say they have vaped nicotine in the past year, with usage up significantly in virtually all vaping measures among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.

The year over year increase from 2017 to 2018 in the prevalence of nicotine vaping translates into nearly 1.3 million adolescents who vaped this year compared to last year. The increase in vaping rates between 2017-2018 also corresponds with the recently published CDC/FDA National Youth Tobacco Survey. Overall, as many as 3.6 million middle and high school students are regularly vaping.

Levels of nicotine vaping are the most considerable, with 29.7% of 12th graders vaping nicotine in the past year. The annual prevalence levels were 10.9% and 24.7% for 8th and 10th graders, respectively. Additional students may get nicotine in what they vape without being aware of it, so the estimates should be considered conservative. Here are the numbers compared to last year.

  • 8th grade: 8% – 10.9%
  • 10th grade: 16% – 24.7%
  • 12th grade: 19% – 29.7%


What is Vaping?

A man learning about vaping and smoking on the internet

Vaping is a term that was first introduced by electronic smoking device industry to refer to the inhalation of vapors through electronic means, including e-cigs, vapes, vape pens, vaporizers, and e-hookahs. The term can lead some people to believe that vapes produce a harmless water vapor, but the truth is that these devices contain potentially harmful aerosols that can damage the environment and your lungs. Vaping devices may also be used to vape cannabis.


Why Do I Need to Know About It?

While overall tobacco usage has declined among teens, e-cig and vaping among middle and high school students continues to rise at a rapid pace. The popularity of these devices among youth should be the utmost concern for health professionals, educators, and parents, in part because of the common misconception that inhaling vapors is less harmful than smoke, and partly because the long term health consequences are still unknown. It is imperative to understand the risks and side effects of using these devices.


Adolescent Vaping

Adolescent Vaping

The brain’s prefrontal cortex, in charge of judgement, decision making, and impulse control, is still in a maturing phase during adolescence.

Some doctors are even offering students a combination of talk therapy and nicotine patches to help with withdrawals. Dr. Sharon Levy, adolescent addiction expert at Boston Children’s Hospital, utilizes motivational interviewing to educate teenagers about how and why they should quit on their own. Some doctors have even resorted to prescribing antidepressants.

Following vaping and alcohol use the most common thing that teens use is marijuana. 1 in 4 students say they have tried using marijuana at least once in the last year, with 1 in 17 high school seniors said they use marijuana at least once a day. While marijuana use remains high, it hasn’t changed much in the past several years. In other encouraging news, usage of alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, heroin, and opioid pills are all on the decline in adolescents.

On Tuesday, December 18th, In a Tuesday advisory, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged for more local restrictions on e-cigarettes and vaping products such as taxes and bans on indoor vaping. Unfortunately, many young smokers are introduced to vaping through friends. With the Juul product, users may not be hooked instantly, but they find themselves constantly surrounded. High school and college students, free from parental supervision, pass around Juul sticks.

There’s a strange distinction that vapers hold between themselves and cigarette smokers. Although e-cigarettes and vaping products purport to have less negative side effects than cigarettes, they still can produce serious nicotine dependency. The long term effects on users’ lungs are also still unknown, worrying many scientists and researchers.



In November of 2018, Juul Labs deleted its social media accounts and halted all promotional posts on Twitter after the FDA declared youth vaping an epidemic. In a statement to USA today, Juul stated that they created “ads aimed at adult smokers in the 25 to 34-year-old demographic, featuring models between the ages of 24 and 37.”


How to Help Teenagers Quit Vaping

How to help teenagers quit vaping

The NY Times recently published an article on helping your teenager to quit vaping. In it, they advocate for an approach that incorporates understanding, support, and evidence based methods. First, any parents that finds their child vaping should not panic.

Dr. Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, Yale professor of psychiatry, suggests not taking a Draconian stance. “The trick is not to try to scare them, because scare tactics don’t work at this point. But explaining how these products are making them addicted is the way to go.” You should try and involve your teen in a productive and open conversation about compulsive behavior and whether or not they feel in control of their relationship with substances.

Unfortunately, there is no final consensus on what works for curing nicotine addiction. Addiction medicine experts advocate several approaches that could work, but there is little evidence produced thus far to know what will and won’t work for sure. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one approach. This way, teens learn to redirect thoughts when cravings hit them. Talk therapy can help address underlying issues such as anxiety and depression, which may relate back to the reason the teen is vaping in the first place.

Other activities such as yoga, meditation, and sports can help alleviate stress. Even getting invested in a new hobby is one way that teenagers can replace a nicotine addiction with a more healthy obsession.


Vaping in Oklahoma

At Broken Arrow High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is dealing with an epidemic that has never been seen before. Students attempting to vape in class, in restrooms, and between periods are causing disruptions to the school atmosphere and could be seriously harming student’s mental and physical health.

In the state, roughly twice as many high school students are used nicotine tinged electronic cigarettes in 2018 compared to 2017, an unprecedented jump. The findings, collected by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, show the largest single-year increase in the survey’s 44-year history of collecting data, surpassing the mid-1970s surge in marijuana smoking.

Dr. Susan Studebaker, assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, says that the survey’s results are alarming because the adolescent brain is the most susceptible to becoming addicted, especially with a stimulant as addictive as nicotine.

“Any amount of nicotine, especially with young kids, is dangerous,” says Studebaker. “They’re going to become addicted. Some young people believe that e-cigarettes are safer or less addictive than cigarettes.”

While these devices may contain less of the harmful filtering and chemical additives found in cigarettes, there is still nicotine in the device, posing a greater risk for the developing brain. Juul, one of the largest manufacturer of e cigarettes in the United States came under fire by the FDA for failing to address the high rate of teen consumption for their product. In response, the company has made several changes to their marketing and distribution campaigns.

“We stopped the distribution of certain flavored JUULpods to retail stores as of November 17, 2018, strengthened the age verification of our industry leading site, eliminated our Facebook and Instagram accounts, and are developing new technology to further limit youth access and use,” the company said in a statement.


Vaping Legislation Across the Nation

Vaping Legislation

Several states are taking action to create more legislative barriers to purchasing these products and outlawing marketing practices. In Washington, for example, there has been a renewed push to raise the age for buying tobacco and vape products from 18 to 21.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has attempted to pass this bill four other times since 2015. Six states, including California and Oregon, along with more than 360 municipalities nationwide, have raised the tobacco sale age to 21 and Ferguson believes momentum is on his side.

One community in Carlsbad, California surveyed high school students on e-cigarette usage and found that usage rose 44% in the year prior. Records showed that more than half of boys and nearly 45% of girls surveyed had used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. Legislators are currently drafting measures to make it more difficult for vaping products to get in the hands of teenagers.

In Baltimore, three bills were introduced towards the end of 2018 intended to curb smoking and vaping. City legislators worked with the Baltimore City Health Department to craft the legislation. Included in the bills are moves to ban flavored e-cigarette liquids and expand the definition of electronic smoking devices to include any electronic or battery operated device that contains or delivers nicotine.

The bills fall in line with efforts put forward by the Food and Drug Administration to limit the sales of sweet e-cigarette flavors and ensure that facilities where liquids are manufactured are sanitary.

The American Vaping Association, a nonprofit that advocates for “sensible” policy toward vaping products, opposes measures such as the ones being implemented in Washington and Maryland. Greg Conley, president of the association, issued a statement in regards to these measures.

‘Passage of this ordinance will constitute a giant gift to Big Tobacco, which will be able to continue to sell deadly menthol cigarettes, all while not facing competition from smoke-free products that have been estimated by international experts as being at least 95 percent less hazardous than smoking.According to the CDC, vaping products are the most popular quit smoking tool on the U.S. market. Shutting down small businesses that are dedicated to helping smokers switch will lead to more smoking and more death.’


The Smoke Free Schools Act

Originally introduced on Dec. 4th of 2018, the Smoke Free Schools Act of 2018 was co-sponsored by New Mexico’s Sen. Tom Udall and Utah’s Sen. Orin Hatch. The legislation would ban the usage of e-cigarettes and similar devices in educational and childcare facilities. It would also coordinate efforts between the FDA and CDA to determine best practices for addressing the vaping epidemic.

The Smoke Free Schools Act of 2018 would:

  • Establish findings supporting the assertion that e-cigarette use has become a public health risk in schools and among youth.
  • Establishes Congress’ policy-setting role in ensuring tobacco is discouraged to the maximum extent possible.
  • States that local education agencies should be given the greatest flexibility to target specific funding to efforts aimed at eradicating the problem of e-cigarette use.
  • Ban e-cigarettes in schools
  • Amends the Pro-Children Act of 2001 to include e-cigarettes in smoking bans on educational and childcare facilities.
  • Clarify That Federal Funding Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) can be used for e-cigarette prevention programs.
  • Require Collection of data and studies to address knowledge gaps in the e-cigarette crisis
  • Instructs the FDA to partner with the CDC and the Department of Education to conduct studies of best practices for schools to discourage e-cigarette use, and to study gaps in knowledge of the harms of e-cigarettes among adolescents and youth including injuries and poisoning.
  • It seeks further information on the dose-response association between e-cigarettes and combustible tobacco, and the current efforts by schools to use federal funding to combat e-cigarette use.
  • It instructs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to consider including e-cigarettes in any studies they do relating to the marketing effects of traditional tobacco.

In Conclusion

At Landmark Recovery, we are focused on being a part of the solution to reducing vaping addiction among teens. Landmark offers a path to sobriety through individualized care for those looking to escape the clutches of addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, feel free to reach out to our admissions team to receive more information on how we can help with drug treatment and alcohol treatment.


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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.