What are Vapor Products?
Vapor products produce aerosol by heating a liquid solution. The aerosol is inhaled, referred to as “vaping.” Vapor products often products contain nicotine. They also may include flavors or other substances. There are many names for vapor products, including electronic nicotine delivery systems, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or vape pens.
There are health and safety concerns with vapor products. Nicotine used in vapor products is highly addictive and can damage your heart, arteries and lungs, increasing the risk for heart attack, stroke and chronic lung disease. Learn more about vapor product health and safety concerns.
What is a JUUL?
JUUL is a type of e-cigarette/vapor product that has become increasingly popular, especially among youth. JUULs very closely resemble a USB drive, can be charged in a USB port, and emit little to no detectable vapor or odor. Due to their easily concealable design, they are of particular concern with regards to youth use.
JUUL now represents the majority (70 percent and rising) of the e-cigarette/vapor product market share. The e-liquid contains .7 ml nicotine by volume, and 5 percent nicotine by weight. This is roughly equivalent to the amount of nicotine in a pack of cigarettes. Every flavored JUUL pod contains nicotine, and come in flavors that appeal to youth. The U.S. Surgeon General has determined that vapor products are still the most common tobacco product among youth, and e-cigarette/vapor product use is strongly associated with the use of other tobacco products among youth and young adults, particularly the use of combustible tobacco products.
What are e-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes, known by many different brand names, are battery-powered devices that create a foggy, aerosolized mist by heating up liquid, or “vape juice,” that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other additives. Users then inhale this mist into their lungs. These can also be used to consume marijuana by vaping concentrated THC oils, without any detectible smell. E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used form of tobacco by youth in the United States, with recent studies showing up to a third of high school students having used vaping products. Many devices are rechargeable and are low-profile, with common models resembling pens or USB devices. A typical vaping pod (lasting~200 inhalations) contains the nicotine equivalent of a pack of cigarettes. Depending on frequency of use, pods typically last several days.
Myths and facts
Teens seem to be attracted to e-cigarettes for a lot of reasons including youth-oriented flavors and ease of use. Contrary to teen belief, e-cigarettes often contain trace metals, chemicals, and nicotine and are illegal for teens to purchase, possess or use.
What are the possible effects on teens?
- Nicotine addiction: Nicotine is highly addictive, and 90% of people who smoke started before they turned 18.
- Brain development changes: brains continue developing until ~age 25. Teens are more vulnerable to addiction because their brains are still developing.
- Mental health associations: Nicotine use is associated with an increase in mood disorders and poor impulse control.
- Exposure to harmful chemicals: even though e-cigarettes don’t contain tar or tobacco, they do contain trace metals and chemicals such as propylene glycol and diacetyl that have potential health effects.
Get the Facts. Learn as much as you can about vaping products: what they look like, common brand names, and where they are sold.
Talk with Your Kids. Talking with your kids about vaping is one of the most important things you can do. Use the talking points here, as well as tips below to help you prepare for and start the conversation.
Be patient and ready to listen. Your goal is to have a conversation, not to deliver a lecture. Avoid criticism and encourage an open dialogue.
There is no “perfect time” to talk. Driving in the car together or waiting at an appointment is often the best time. You can start by mentioning a news story, a TV show, or something that you heard about vaping. Or ask your child what he or she thinks about a situation you witness together such as seeing someone use an e-cigarette, passing a vape shop when you are out, or seeing an e-cigarette advertisement.
There is no “perfect talk.” Consider your talks with your child about vaping as a learning opportunity for both of you, and perhaps just the beginning of an ongoing dialogue. You may have some facts about vaping at hand, but concede that you don’t know all the answers. It will go a long way to keep your kids from going on the defensive.
Ask what your child thinks. Show some genuine curiosity. Ask your child, “What’s your take on vaping?” or “Do you know kids who use e-cigarettes?”
Be open and honest. Be truthful about what you know about the dangers of vaping, and what you don’t. You can honestly say, though, “Vaping isn’t harmless. I hope you can steer clear of it.”
You can’t always control everything your children do when they’re not with you. Talking with your kids about vaping will let them know that you’re concerned about their health.
Vapor Product Laws
In 2016, the Washington State Legislature passed a law (RCW 70.345) to regulate vapor products. Among other things, the law prohibits the sale of vapor products to people under 18 years of age, requires sellers to obtain a license and requires that vapor products in stores are inaccessible to minors. Learn more about the vapor product regulations. JUULs are covered under Washington State’s Vapor Product Law.
E-cigarette and vapor product use decreased from 18 percent to 13 percent from 2014 to 2016 (10th grade), but remains a concern because of its prevalence and association with other tobacco and substance use. As cigarette use declines, new tobacco products, such as electronic cigarette/vapor products, are also being introduced and marketed and thus contributing to the overall youth tobacco use rate. More than twice as many youth (10th graders) report using vapor products than cigarettes. The Surgeon General states that e-cigarette use is strongly associated with the use of other tobacco products among youth and young adults, particularly the use of combustible tobacco products. Among youth who vape, 32 percent also report smoking cigarettes. Learn more about e-cigarette and vapor product use rates in Washington State.
- Know the Risks: E-Cigarettes and Young People, based on the United States 2016 Surgeon General’s report on E-cigarettes and Young People. This site has resources, including a Parent Tip Sheet, Health Care Provider Conversation Card, Videos, and Fact Sheets.
- Intro to Vapor Products and the evolving market, presentation by WA Dept. of Health
- Learn about e-cigarettes shaped like USB flash drives, including JUUL, and actions that parents, educators, and health care providers can take to protect kids.
- Find information for teens who use tobacco products, including quit tips.
- Basic information about e-cigarettes(CDC)
- Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, “JUUL E-Cigarettes: A New Threat to Kids”, 2018.
- 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, data showing a dramatic increase in e-cigarette use among youth over the past year.
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes
- Overview of Local Vapor Product Regulations in Washington State (PDF).