Doctor’s advice to parents about vaping

September 10, 2019
a photo of a young woman smoking an e-cigarette
Dr. Heather Isaacson, a pediatrician at UCHealth Pediatric Care Clinic – Longmont, has advice for parents who discover their teen is vaping. Photo: Getty Images.

Teen vaping is a growing public health issue that Dr. Heather Isaacson, a pediatrician at UCHealth Pediatric Care Clinic – Longmont, is passionate about. Dr. Isaacson has written this article to help parents learn more about vaping.

Colorado youth are vaping nicotine at twice the national average and at the highest rate of 37 states surveyed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These devices are still fairly new but the effects on the developing teen brain are alarming. Nicotine can cause lasting cognitive and behavioral impairment and issues with memory and attention. There can also be problems with the lungs including serious complications and non-infectious pneumonia.

Recently there have been several cases in Colorado and across the country of hospitalizations and even deaths from vaping, especially when combining e-cigarettes with marijuana. This investigation is ongoing.

What parents need to know about vaping and e-cigarettes:

  • They have many names such as e-cigs, vape pens, JUUL, mods and pods.
  • E-cigarettes have many forms and can resemble pens, flash drives or combustible cigarettes.
  • The liquid may contain harmful chemicals and carcinogens.
  • They are often available in flavors that appeal to children and teens including fruit, candy, peppermint and bubble gum.
  • The nicotine is addictive and harmful to the developing brain and sometimes teens do not realize the solutions they are using contain nicotine – between 0-59mg/ml.
  • Youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes in the future.
  • Although originally marketed for this purpose, e-cigarettes are not recommended as a way to quit smoking
  • Teens and youth can purchase e-cigarettes online, even if they are under 18.

The second-hand effects of vaping are still unknown, but the vapor is harmful to growing lungs. There has been an increase in calls to poison control centers over the last 5 years from children getting poisoned from e-cigarettes.

Dr. Heather Isaacson
Dr. Heather Isaacson

A young child can be killed by a small amount of nicotine, less than a half a teaspoon. If parents are using these products, they should not vape in front of their kids and the containers should be locked and out of reach of young children.

What should you do if you find out your child is vaping?

The first thing is to remain calm. You will not be able to communicate if you are upset. Try to have an open and honest conversation with your child about why he/she is vaping. Ask questions: Do you have your own device or are you sharing with friends? Do you use it every day and how much? Have you ever tried to stop?

Talk to their pediatrician or family doctor to get some resources or have your child meet with their provider to discuss the health risks and how to get help with stopping.

For more information parents can visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.