What is vaping?

Vaping began as an alternative for adults who smoked cigarettes to help them stop smoking. It has now grown to include recreational use. Vaping involves the use of an e-cigarette, which can come in many different forms and  brands. Some of these look like a USB drive and can be easily hidden. Most put off little to no smoke, making them hard to see or smell. These devices are battery-operated and are used to inhale an aerosol, which typically contains nicotine, flavorings, and  other chemicals3. Nicotine is highly addictive and is known to affect brain development by impacting the reward system3. We have recently seen a rise of use in our middle and high school students locally. The 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey results show that 47.1% of high school students and 19.7% of middle school students in the Roanoke Valley said they had used an electronic vapor product. This is an increase from 2017, where 39.8% of high school students and 15.1% of middle school students reported that they had ever used an electronic vapor product.

Why is vaping so attractive to kids?

Vape pens and accessories are easily available, are advertised heavily, currently come in different flavors, and are believed to be safer than cigarettes. All of these factors contribute to making them more appealing to the youth population3. As the flavors seen in e-cigarettes are sweet and fruity, it has been suggested that        e-cigarette companies are marketing them toward the youth because adults trying to quit smoking would be more likely to buy those that taste like cigarettes. 

Vaping and marijuana:

“Dabbing” has become one of the most popular ways for teens to use marijuana. This can refer to use of an      e-cigarette to ingest marijuana concentrates. These concentrates contain large amounts of THC that can be up to four times stronger in THC content than high-grade marijuana2. Most users prefer dabbing because it is smokeless, odorless, easy to hide, and it ensures an instant high when heated2.

Vaping in the news:

We have all read about the recent mystery lung illness that is spreading across our nation. The CDC has    reported 1080 lung injury cases from 48 states and there have been 18 deaths confirmed in 12 states prior to October 1, 20191. The most current findings suggest that the lung injury is associated with e-cigarette use and they also suggest products that contain THC are to blame1. The CDC suggests not using e-cigarette, or vaping products, particularly those containing THC1.

Vaping, using either nicotine or marijuana, is harmful  to a developing brain and should never be used by youth. Parents, talk to your kids about vaping, discuss the dangers, and be open to answering any questions that they may have.

For more information on vaping, visit the sites below:


  1. CDC (2019). Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-cigarette use, or Vaping. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 3 October  2019.
  2.  JTT. The Facts About Marijuana Concentrates. Just Think Twice.
  3. NIH (2019). Electronic Cigarettes (E-cigarettes). NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse. September 2019.