If you found out that your teen was vaping, you might feel some sort of relief that at least they aren’t smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or doing drugs. After all, vaping is safe, right? The idea of watching your teen vape is probably a lot less terrifying than imagining them rolling up a joint or snorting cocaine. At least they are not doing drugs. At least this cannot kill them. Except sometimes they are, and sometimes it can.
Vaping – inhaling and exhaling vapor produced by vape pens or electronic cigarettes – has been around for over a decade, but in the recent years has become a major trend among America’s youth. With flavors like bubble gum, cotton candy, fruit loops, and gummy bears it is easy to see that e-cigarettes are primarily being marketed towards teens. And the data backs it up. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, high school students are vaping at significantly higher rates than adults. The biggest problem? The substances they are vaping.
Although both contain nicotine and hazardous chemicals, e-cigarettes are considered safer than regular cigarettes because they are smoke-free and tobacco-free. But it is not just the consumption of possibly carcinogen chemicals that is raising concern surrounding vaping, it is the fact that e-cigarettes are being used to be consume illicit substances such as marijuana, cocaine, and THC. According to a recent study of Connecticut teens, one-fifth of students use vape pens to smoke marijuana. The vaping of synthetic drugs among teens is also on the rise.
Because vape pens do not produce a smell, it almost impossible to tell whether an individual is smoking nicotine or marijuana. Most vape pens are designed to be sleek and discrete, and some vapes could even be confused for actual pens. This makes it easier for teens to hide their drug use.
If used as intended – a safer alternative to cigarettes – vape pens might not seem like a threat, but it is the behavior that they encourage that is dangerous. Because it is easier to hide, research shows that vaping increases the risk that an individual will experiment with drugs, especially if they are young.
According to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent John Scherbenske, vape pens are a concealment method. And that is what makes them so dangerous.