While cigarette use has declined among high schoolers, smoking e-cigarettes or “vaping” has become a new concern, leaving some parents and educators worried about the negative effects it can have on the health of adolescent users.
Local prevention specialists Melinda Calianos from the Hampshire Franklin Tobacco-Free Community Partnership and Kat Allen from the Communities That Care Coalition recently hosted a presentation at an area high school for those with questions and concerns about the newer forms of using nicotine.
Each year, a survey of local middle and high schools is conducted to anonymously ask students about their health behaviors and conditions in their family, schools and community that put them at greater risk for unhealthy behaviors. Allen outlined the statistics for the parents and teachers in the room and Calianos compiled a presentation to inform the audience what vaping is.
What is vaping?
Vaporizers (“vapes” or “vape pens”) and e-cigarettes came out to the mass market in 2007 as a tobacco-free alternative to smoking cigarettes. Usually, these devices consist of a “pen” or a “tank” that allows a cartridge of liquid (sometimes called “juice” or “e-liquid”) to be heated up so it can be vaporized and inhaled.
These devices are battery-powered and rechargeable. Depending on the device, the user either presses a button and inhales, or simply inhales. The device’s heating element turns the liquid into an aerosol vapor that is inhaled into the lungs, then exhaled.
Calianos explained that when a cigarette is smoked, particulates fill the air. When water turns to steam, that is vapor. However, vape pens do not exactly produce “vapor;” they produce an aerosol, which is “somewhere in the middle” between particulates and vapor, according to Calianos. This aerosol contains tiny droplets of heated chemicals.
“This isn’t just disappearing into people’s lungs or the air,