The Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition brought together experts from throughout the state last month to discuss the dangers of youth vaping, and what parents and other adults can do to protect them from this dangerous and addictive substance.
At the end of the presentation, State Senator Julia Ratti recognized the importance of the problem by declaring January 26, “Youth Vaping Prevention and Awareness Day.”
“Youth vaping has skyrocketed over the past several years and in 2019 our state lawmakers recognized the need to reduce youth use of vape products and prevent additional youth from starting,” said NTPC President Kelli Goatley-Seals. “With the funding designated by lawmakers, NTPC has worked with national and statewide leaders in vaping prevention to develop a campaign to educate youth and adults about the short-term and long-term dangers of using vape products.”
There has been a more than 45 percent increase (between 2017-2019) in teens reporting they have vaped in the last thirty days, according to findings from the 2019 Nevada Youth Risk Behavior Survey. UNR researchers found that 22.5 percent of teens had vaped in the last 30 days, compared to 15.5 percent in 2017, and in certain counties within the northern and rural regions of Nevada, prevalence rates were above 36 percent.
Go here for the panel discussion video.
Hidden Dangers of Vaping
The vaping industry continues to manipulate teens into thinking that vapes are harmless. According to studies:
Many electronic vapor products heat liquids that contain nicotine, the same drug that makes cigarettes addictive. “When e-cigarettes first became popular in the U.S. about seven or eight years ago, most delivered very little nicotine to the user,” explained Jennifer Pearson, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). “But now, a lot of e-cigarettes use a different formulation – a nicotine salt solution — that makes the nicotine much more bio-available. People who use these nicotine salt solution e-cigarettes have blood nicotine concentrations that look a lot like they’re smoking cigarettes.”
Youth are more at risk for addiction to the nicotine contained in vapes because their brains are still developing, leading to other addictions such as cigarettes.
The exposure of a young brain to nicotine can cause mood disorders and permanently lower impulse control.
Vapes aren’t just “water vapor.” The aerosol from vapes contains ultrafine particles, heavy metals and other chemicals that can damage a teen’s lungs. “In my own research, the most common symptoms that teens mention from vaping is wheezing and coughing, which they say have done things like hurt their performance in sports or the arts like singing,” Pearson said. “The good news is that, in all but the most rare, extreme cases, this damage will reverse itself if the teen stops vaping.”
Ease of acquisition and hiding from parents:
Vapes are pretty easy to get for teens — nearly 60 percent of high school students in Nevada said it would be easy for them to get a vape if they wanted one in 2019.
Most vapes don’t look like what adults think of as drug paraphernalia. “There are a lot of ways that teens can hide these products in plain sight of their parents and teachers,” said Malcolm Ahlo, Tobacco Control Program Coordinator for the Southern Nevada Health District. “They look like pens, highlighters, phone chargers and even other electronic products.”
Vaping doesn’t smell like smoke, making it even more difficult to detect – vaping just gives off a light odor of whatever flavor is being vaped.
What can parents do?
Parents have the power to help their teens and young adults protect themselves.
“Our data show that if kids think their parents disapprove of e-cigarette use, they are much less likely to use e-cigarettes, and this is especially true for middle school aged adolescents ” Pearson said. “Parents need to strongly communicate to their kids that this is not acceptable, it is not just water vapor, and they are addictive.”
NTPC shares these tips for parents:
Like any other important conversation you have with your teen — do not panic. Look for ways to work you concern about vaping into everyday conversation instead of lecturing or giving them “the talk.”
Show you child that you’re listening and give them opportunity to talk openly.
Ask them about their mood and mental health in general. Vaping and symptoms of anxiety and depression often travel together. Kids might be vaping as a way to deal with these symptoms and would benefit from talking with a doctor.
Focus on the facts instead of scare tactics. Adolescents can smell an overstatement a mile away and that will hurt your credibility with them.
Additional tips and programs to help teens quit vaping can be found on letstalkvaping.com
To better educate teens and their families about the dangers of vaping, NTPC introduced the Behind The Haze NV campaign in 2020 to deliver educational content that exposes the truth about vapes and discourages use among Nevada teens ages 13-18 years old. Let’s Talk Vaping is a complimentary campaign that was introduced in late 2020, and is designed to give adults the tools they need to fight this dangerous habit.
The campaign was developed with support for SB263 from state legislators Heidi Gansert, Marilyn Dondero Loop, David Parks and Julia Ratti. This funding allowed for collection of data from youth statewide, which has helped to inform the campaign, and also allows for broader education to unveil the unethical tactics of the vaping industry.
For more information on Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition, research and the dangers of vaping please visit www.tobaccofreenv.org.
About Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition
NTPC is a collaboration of organizations and individuals that work in public health, health care, local and national nonprofits, community-based organizations, insurance payors, professional and medical associations, higher education, and government. NTPC members work together and pool resources toward the goal of ultimately eliminating commercial tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure as a public health issue.
NTPC’s mission is to improve the health of all Nevadans by reducing the burden of tobacco use and nicotine addiction. For a comprehensive list of members and for more information on NTPC, please visit www.tobaccofreenv.org or like us on Facebook.