In 2003 the e-cigarette (e-cigs or vape) was invented. E-cigs use a lithium battery (or another power source) to heat a liquid that contains flavors and nicotine. The heat creates a cloud of vapor that looks like smoke, which the user inhales from the mouthpiece.
Studies show the use of e-cigarettes in preteens and teens increases the likelihood that they will use tobacco products later on. Tobacco products have many known health risks, including cancer.
Tobacco cigarettes kill about 50 percent of people who use them. To stay in business, big tobacco companies need to build a pipeline of users. E-cigarettes market to young people by offering candy and dessert flavors.
According to one tobacco executive: “The base of our business is the high school student. The fragile self-image of the young person needs all the support it can get. Smoking may appear to enhance that self-image.”
There are known health risks associated with vaping in adolescence. While vaping doesn’t burn anything or create tar in the lungs like tobacco products do, it does deliver nicotine, which:
E-cigs also contain chemical solvents which transform into formaldehyde (which is known to cause cancer) when heated. Other chemicals used to generate the 7,000+ flavors may be toxic to living cells or potentially cancer-causing.
You might be unaware your child is using e-cigarettes. It can be difficult to catch your child in the act of vaping and the vapor leaves no smell or residue. Concerned parents should watch for these signs:
Talk to your child’s health care provider if you are concerned about vaping. Find a general UCLA Health pediatrics provider or make an appointment by calling 310-825-0867. To meet the needs of youth and young adults age 12 to 25, UCLA Health offers Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine services from specially trained doctors.