• Students are vaping at home, in cars and at school, unaware of the addictive nature of the nicotine and the chemicals treating the flavored vape water.  

  • Many flavored water vapes are high in nicotine.    

  • The devices are undetectable and often look like pens, highlighters or USB devices.  

  • The devices are easy to purchase in local retail stores, on-line and from other students selling them at school.

  • Vapes/e-cigarettes are a gateway delivery system of substances that can lead students to use traditional cigarettes, marijuana, and other drugs.


•  Vaping is inhaling a water vapor that is produced by a battery-powered electronic cigarette, or “e-cigarette.” 

•  The device has a cartridge of fluid, e-liquid or e-juice, which often contains nicotine and/or flavoring. 

•  The liquid is heated and converted into a mist that the user inhales or “vapes.” 

•  Vapes or e-cigarettes are most commonly used among teens and young adults.


•  The 2015 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that 16 percent of high school kids vape, which means vaping has surpassed cigarette use in teenagers. 

•  With names that make them sound like candy—like “Mint Chocolate” and “Frozen Lime Drop”—many young people report that they have used e-cigarettes because they are curious to test out these flavors.


Research shows that nicotine may be more harmful to adolescents than adults. Brain development continues through about age 25 and nicotine may harm the developing brain.

Even e-cigarettes that don’t contain nicotine can be harmful. The surgeon general warns that e-cigarettes may contain other potentially harmful ingredients, including:

•  Volatile organic compounds;

•  Heavy metals such as nickel, lead, and tin;

•  Ultrafine particles that could be inhaled deep into the lungs; and

•  Flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical that has been linked to lung disease


The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that e-cigarettes are “threatening to addict a new generation to nicotine,” and recommends stricter laws to reduce minors from accessing e-cigarettes. 

They even recommend that the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, be increased to 21 nationwide.


E-cigarettes or vapes can also be used to deliver other drugs. A study published in the medical journal, Pediatrics, found that 1 in 5 high school students used e-cigarettes to vape concentrated THC extracted from marijuana, called hash oil.  

Vaping hash oil causes an intense rapid high and increases the risk of addiction. It also increases the risk of severe side effects such as panic attacks and hallucinations.


If you suspect your teen is vaping, check for:

The scent.  You might begin to smell bubble gum, candy, tropical or other flavored scents wafting through the room even if your teenager has nothing in his or her mouth at the time. This sweet-smelling aroma may be the after-effect of cloud vapor.

“Pens” that aren’t pens.  E-cigarettes or vaporizers can look like many things; thumb drives, pens, or styluses.  If you spot something resembling these, take a closer look, and if there are holes on each end, it is probably an e-cig or vape.

Lots of bathroom breaks, closed door time. If they are in their bedroom more than usual, or often looking for additional chargers. (Many vape devices require charging batteries).

Copious sipping of liquids. One major ingredient in the vaporized liquid in e-cigs is propylene glycol, which is “hygroscopic” – meaning it attracts and holds water molecules from its environment, like the mouth.  This can lead to constant dry mouth, which may lead to constantly sipping drinks.

Nosebleeds. The water-holding effect of e-cig vapor can also dry out the nasal passages, leading to nosebleeds.

Bloodshot eyes. There are not many physical signs that a teen is vaping, but bloodshot eyes can be a clue.

Irritability. If your teen is moodier than usual, it could be a sign of nicotine withdrawal.

Dry skin is a common side effect.



Your teen may insist you don’t know what you’re talking about since e-cigarettes weren’t around when you were young. But it’s important to hold conversations about the dangers of vaping.


Look for opportunities to bring up the subject - for example, when you see someone vaping or when you pass an e-cigarette shop. Get the conversation rolling by asking a question like, “Do kids at your school smoke e-cigarettes?”


Here are some key talking points to incorporate into your discussion:

  • Your brain is still developing until about age 25. Using nicotine as a teen could be harmful to your brain.

  • Using nicotine may make it harder for you to learn or to control your impulses.

  • Nicotine may cause you to become more easily addicted to harder drugs.

  • E-cigarettes that don’t contain nicotine still contain other harmful chemicals that are bad for your brain and your body. 

  • Hold specific conversations about how to resist peer pressure so your teen has a plan about what they can say if offered an e-cigarette.


Acknowledge the reasons your teen may want to vape—all his friends are doing it, vaping seems like the cool thing to do, the flavors are fun, etc. Then, discuss the downsides to doing it as well.


If your teen doubts that vaping is harmful, do some online research together. Look at credible websites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and talk about the research and facts.


Talk to other parents as well.  If you suspect or have found evidence of vaping, chances are it is happening with their friends and you can find out what other parents are thinking and doing as well.