I Caught My Nephew Vaping. What Should I Do?

I’m having an issue with my family, and it’s a delicate situation. I visited my nephew last week – he’s 14 – and his friends came over for a family barbeque. Halfway through the party, I notice that he and his friends are gone. I found them behind the house vaping near the shed.

My first reaction was to yell at them, but when I realized they were vaping – not smoking – I calmed down and went back to the party. It’s been drilled into my brain that vaping isn’t a big deal, but when I told my girlfriend about it later that night, she told me that vaping is actually pretty bad and I should talk to him about it.

Is she over-reacting, or can this habit really hurt his health?

Your girlfriend is right to be concerned. We still don’t know the long-term effects of vaping, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there about the safety of it. Most people are led to believe that vaporizers are a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes – and they’re somewhat safer – but they can still be harmful, especially for teens.

Your nephew isn’t alone in his habit, and that’s part of the problem. E-cigarettes have become the most frequently used tobacco product among teens. In 2017, there were 2.1 million middle and high school students using e-cigarettes.

The primary issue is that e-cigarette liquids still contain nicotine, and in many cases, they contain a lot of nicotine. The amount of nicotine in the e-liquid is not usually listed, or if it is, it’s usually wrong.

Teens can easily buy e-cigarettes online, although all online stores – including http://www.vapeactive.com/ – require you to be at least 18 years of age or older to make a purchase.

Nicotine content can vary from one manufacturer to another. JUULpods, for example, have as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. These high nicotine levels are what make vaping so addictive.

For teens, it’s even more addicting because their brains are still developing. In fact, the brain is still growing and developing until about age 25. Addiction is a form of learning, so teens can get addicted more easily than adults. It can also prime the brain for addiction to other drugs, including cocaine.

Another problem with vaping is that it often leads to cigarette use. A recent study of 12th graders found that those who vaped – but were not previously smokers – were four times as likely to “move away from the perception of cigarettes as posing a great risk of harm.”

Let’s also talk about the aerosol that vaporizers produce. Many people are under the impression that e-cigarettes emit water vapor, but that’s not true. It’s actually aerosol, and it can contain potentially harmful chemicals, including ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs.

In addition, aerosol can contain:

  • Volatile organic compounds, like benzene
  • Diacetyl, a flavoring chemical that has been linked to lung disease

Some e-cigarette devices have had issues with defective batteries, which cause the device to explode during use. Users have been seriously injured or even killed due to these defective batteries and explosions.

The bottom line here: e-cigarettes are bad news for teens. Your girlfriend wasn’t over-reacting, and you might consider talking to your nephew about it. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, then maybe talk to his parents about it. Sitting by and doing nothing could be putting your nephew’s life at risk.

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