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E-cigarettes: 5 Things Parents Should Know

Author: CHKD Medical Group, Dr. Kathleen Swayne
Published Date: Monday, April 01, 2019

By Dr. Kathleen Swayne, Pediatric Associates of Williamsburg

Using e-cigarettes, what many people calling “vaping,” is becoming more popular among high school students. And many parents may not know their teens are using them.

Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes don’t leave a lingering smell in your car or on your clothes and hair. The tiny amount of vapor that people exhale quickly dissipates. And, unless you’re familiar with the different e-cigarette devices available, you might not be able to identify what they look like. One type of device looks very similar to a USB flash drive.

Earlier this year, new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed an alarming increase in the number of high school students using e-cigarettes. There were 1.5 million more youth using e-cigarettes in 2018 than in 2017. The same study found that more than one in four high school students, and about one in 14 middle school students, reported using a tobacco product in the past 30 days.

Here are five things you should know to help your child stay healthy and nicotine-free:

  • Nicotine can harm brain development in children and teens. It can impact learning, memory, and attention, according to the CDC. Although the legal age to buy nicotine products is 18, the brain continues to develop until age 25.
  • Research shows that the earlier someone begins using nicotine, the harder it is for them to quit later, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Exposing the brain to nicotine primes it for addiction, federal health authorities warn.
  • Many children are using a type of e-cigarette – called JUUL – that looks like a typical USB flash drive. Although they’re forbidden on school grounds, it’s not uncommon for students to use these devices in the bathroom and the classroom at school because they are so easy to conceal. JUUL pods, which contain liquid nicotine, come in flavors that appeal to kids. One JUUL pod has as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, according to the CDC.
  • Any tobacco use among youth is unsafe. E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product for kids in middle and high school.
  • As a parent, you can set a positive example by not using any tobacco products yourself. Talk to your kids about the health dangers of using tobacco. Make sure your child’s school enforces its policy to have a tobacco-free campus.


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About CHKD Medical Group

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.

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