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Are you raising teens? We're right there with you. Consider us three non-expert moms doing the research on the latest challenges facing teens and their parents. What we know: Never underestimate the influence of teen vaping.

Related: Keeping teens busy with volunteer opportunities

Talking to Your Teens About Vaping

We're kicking off our monthly series with a chat about teens and vaping.

What Is Vaping?

Vaping is everywhere. But let's back up a bit. First, you should start with our vaping 101 article here. Vaping is inhaling the aerosol--or vapor--generated by an electronic cigarette device or vaping pen. Unlike packs of cigarettes, vape pens are pretty easy to hide making them a dream for sneaky teens.

How Vaping Works

The vape pen has a four basic pieces: 

  1. mouthpiece
  2. battery
  3. heating component
  4. cartridge 

The tiny cartridge holds e-juice. The juice can be everything from a fruity liquid to something laced with THC. Unlike the combustion of a cigarette, with a vape the battery activates the heating component that heats the liquid in the cartridge. This heat creates vapor that is inhaled into the lungs. 

Never Underestimate The Influence Of Teen Vaping

Vaping Studies

Since vaping is relatively new, we are just learning about the health effects. Here's what we do know. All vape juice has nicotine. And we know nicotine is highly addictive. The pods in vaping devices have a higher concentration of nicotine than do individual cigarettes. Manufacturers insist that vaping helps adults quit cigarettes -- making the devices a public service.

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Vape brands like Juul play up the benefits. The vaping process cuts out the “combustion” process that makes tar. Tar has been the villain in the cigarette industry. Tar gets into our lungs, coats the cilia (fine hairs in the lungs) causing them to stop working and eventually die. With the cilia unable to clean the lungs, your body becomes prone to lung cancer.

But new research indicates that vaping is leading more adolescents to try cigarettes. They start with vaping and then end up using cigarettes.

Never Underestimate The Influence Of Teen Vaping

What Is In the "Juice" Teens Vape?

Sadly, a lot of the liquids in the cartridges appeal to kids. They have fruity scents and flavors that are more reminiscent of candy than Camel cigarettes. The ingredients of these "e-juices" aren't regulated. They usually contain propylene glycol or vegetable a glycerin-based liquid. 

Hazards of Vaping for Teens

We need more tests to figure out just what vaping is doing to our kids. Right now some evidence shows that, when heated, the propylene glycol and glycerol can form carcinogenic compounds. 

Did you get that: cancer-causing compounds. 

There's more. Diacetyl, a chemical often found in flavored vape juice, has been shown to potentially causes "popcorn lung." Popcorn lung is a condition that damages the airways. It's sometimes caused by breathing in a chemical used to flavor microwave popcorn. It causes the users to become short of breath.

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