• What Do I Need to Know About Vaping for Teens? | Dr. Kandi L Walker | Episode 159

  • What do I need to know about vapingVaping is here and parents wonder what we need to know about vaping. What is it? Is it safe? Is it a real problem or is it not a big deal if our teens vape once in a while? Why are they doing it? What is the truth? Sandy Fowler interviews Dr. Kandi Walker to answer these questions and, most importantly, understand what our kids think about vaping, Juuling, and e-cigarettes. Dr. Walker has investigated tobacco use, e-cigarettes, and vaping from a youth perspective with the American Heart Association Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center and she shares her insights with parents on today’s episode of Mighty Parenting.



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    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    Not being able to stop vaping is not being weak, it’s the way this chemical works, it makes you addicted.

    High Points From Our Conversation on What I Need to Know About Vaping:

    What do I need to know about vaping - it's addictive.Vaping is inhaling and exhaling an aerosol produced by a liquid vapor device. Vaping devices heat liquid to create the aerosol and that’s what you inhale and exhale. 

    Most of our teens and twenty somethings are doing juuling. They’ve flipped the language from vaping to juuling. Juuling is actually when you use a product called Juul. The company is very savvy in the way they market. It’s very technologically advanced and very modern so it appeals to youth. Even when kids use a different products they will use the therm juuling. 

    E-cigarettes, mods, vaping and juuling are all in the same category. There are some specific nicotine levels involved when we talk about Juul but, for the most part, they mean the same thing and the words are used interchangeably by our kids.

    Mods are when an e-cigarette is modified to get the best hit or puff.

    E-cigarettes (vaping devices) discharge different chemicals than cigarettes but it is not healthy. These chemicals are heated and released into the body.

    Yes, vaping is harmful to our kids. The nicotine alone is harmful. It turns on pleasure centers in the brain. Because their brains are developing, nicotine is more addictive in youth and twenty somethings. Additionally, the heated chemicals damage cell membranes, mucus membranes and your immune system.

    People thought e-cigs would be a good alternative to smoking and a good strategy for cessation. But now we know e-cigarettes are addictive as well. Additionally, you are inhaling chemicals that have been heated and we don’t know the full impact of those chemicals on the body.

    1 Juul pod contains the amount of nicotine as 1 pack of cigarettes.

    Oftentimes teens will start vaping to reduce caffeine use. They feel jittery from the caffeine so they vape. Over time though, they will need to vape more and more to get the same high.

    People think vaping is just inhaling water vapor but it’s not. Vaping turns off the immune system in the lungs and makes it harder to clear them up.

    E-cigarettes were advertised as a healthy alternative to cigarettes and as a way to get you off cigarettes. They were even marketed as a healthy lifestyle choice. While traditional cigarettes are more harmful, vaping is also harmful. Also, research shows smokers who vape to get off cigarettes generally end up as dual users.

    In 2017, 2.1 millions teens said they vaped and did it regularly. In 2020, 3.5 million teens, 1 in 5 high school students, say they use and do it regularly. While use of traditional cigarettes is going down,  e-cigarette use is going up. In fact, 1 in 20 middle schoolers use e-cigarettes regularly in 2020.

    Vaping is appealing to kids. Unlike the smell of cigarettes, vapor from e-cigarettes and other devices smells good. You can even smell like cotton candy. Companies use crazy names that appeal to kids. Kids see it as modern and new rather than something their parents did. It’s easy to hide. They can play games and do vape tricks. 

    Vaping devices are very easy to hide. Juule has devices the look like thumb drives. Other devices are actually strings from hoodies and kids just put the end in their mouth to inhale.

    Juul has nicotine, a lot of nicotine. You can buy nicotine-free liquid but it costs more.

    Nicotine affects brain function. It impacts attention and memory. Nicotine is also addictive. It rewires the brain to cause it to crave more nicotine.

    Kids say the started vaping for a variety of reasons. One reason is that their friends are doing it and they wanted to try it too. Another common reason is they are curious about the flavors. 

    Flavors is the 2nd biggest reason kids try e-cigarettes. Vaping liquid is sold in many flavors such as fruit, mint, candy and dessert flavors. They have fun names and will taste like a Snickers bar., cotton candy or your favorite dessert. The names are fun and they taste good and it doesn’t seem like something so fruity can be harmful.

    Reasons our kids try vaping:

    • Discreet
    • Cool and modern
    • Curiosity
    • Peer pressure
    • Flavoring
    • Tricks
    • Fit in

    Vaping can be a conversation starter and a way for awkward kids to fit in better.

    Depression and anxiety are associated with higher cigarette use and now we’re seeing the same trend with e-cigarettes. Youth who have a propensity for depression or anxiety look for ways to increase dopamine or endorphins. Vaping initially makes kids feel good because it increases dopamine and endorphins levels but kids eventually need to vape more to achieve the same result.

    If you find your teen has used Juul or is vaping, understand their why. Find out if they’re masking emotional pain or another problem. Also, let them know they’re overestimating how many people are doing this. Help them stop normalizing the behavior.

    We have to have very clear expectations and let our kids know our reasons for those expectations, especially with any product that can be addictive while their brains are developing. Let your child know vaping is harmful and addictive, that if they do this their brain will be rewired. Not being able to stop vaping is not being weak, it’s the way this chemical works, it makes you addicted.

    Signs your child is vaping include:

    • More nose bleeds
    • Athletes become winded
    • Coughing
    • Chest pain
    • Fever
    • Weight loss
    • Nausea
    • Diarrhea
    • Craving more spice and salt (their body needs more to have the same experience)


    https://professional.heart.org/en/research-programs/a-trac (scroll down to articles under In The News)

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    Our Guest Dr. Kandi Walker:

    Dr Kandi Walker discusses What I need to know about vapingDr. Walker is a Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Louisville. For over 20 years her work has explored the intersection between health and interpersonal communication looking at how people perceive the social world surrounding health issues. Specifically, her research has examined how people talk about health issues and how people perceive and communicate about risky health behaviors. Recently, she has investigated tobacco use, e-cigarettes, and vaping from a youth perspective with the American Heart Association Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center.  

    To learn more or connect with our guest email her at http://comm.louisville.edu/www/kandi-walker  

    Show Support from:

    Sandy Fowler—helping moms find time for what matters most, without guilt and stress. Grab a free lesson to learn Sandy’s simple strategy for finding time and ditching stress at https://sandyfowler.com/find-time