Vaping 101- A Parent's Guide
By Anjie Valgardson
Vaping - the inhaling of vapour produced by an electronic cigarette device - is legal for anyone over the age of 18 in Manitoba. Unfortunately, this hasn't stopped youth and adolescents from experimenting with or regularly using a vape. It's important to know the facts so you can talk to your kids about the effects of vaping. Manitoba Tobacco Reduction Alliance (MANTRA) - the provincial non-profit organization tasked with the responsibility of coordinating a reduction in the use of commercial tobacco - share's what parents need to know about vaping:
How it Works
Vaping doesn't require burning, unlike cigarette smoking. Instead, the device heats a liquid into a vapour, which then turns into aerosol. This vapour is usually flavoured and can contain nicotine. Vapes go by many names, most commonly e-cigarette, mod, pod or vape pen. This hand-held, battery-powered device mimics the feeling and action of smoking without tobacco. The atomizer of a vape connects directly to the battery itself, which heats the coil and turns the e-liquid into vapour when the device is turned on and inhaled through the mouthpiece. In some cases, malfunctioning vaping products cause injuries by exploding or catching fire.
What is E-Liquid and What Does it Contain?
E-liquids or e-juices usually contain propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, flavourings, additives, and other contaminants. Nicotine salts (SaltNic) e-liquids have very high levels of nicotine. One milliliter of concentrated SaltNic often has more nicotine than an entire package of cigarettes. One small 30ml bottle has a nicotine level high enough to be lethal to children and pets if ingested.
Is Vaping Safe?
For people who are addicted to smoking, vaping is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. However, vaping was never intended to be used by non-smokers and it's not harmless. If you're not a smoker, it's dangerous to start vaping. It can increase your exposure to harmful chemicals, which could negatively affect your health.
Is Vaping Addictive?
Whether in a cigarette or in a vape, nicotine is highly addictive. When e-liquid with nicotine is used, it's just as easy to become addicted to vaping as it is to become addicted to cigarettes.
An adolescent's brain is particularly sensitive to the effects of nicotine. The human brain continues to develop until approximately age 25 and nicotine consumption can alter this development. Studies in human subjects show that using nicotine during adolescence increases the risk of developing psychiatric disorders and cognitive impairment. Nicotine can also raise blood pressure and increase the heart rate.
Effects of Second-Hand Exposure
Second-hand vape emissions can cause an asthma attack or bronchitis flare-up in bystanders who have these health issues. You should never vape around children. In Manitoba, it is illegal to vape anywhere smoking is banned.
Although vaping is a less harmful option than cigarettes, the long-term effects of vaping are unknown. Scientists are still studying and assessing the impact of vaping on the lungs, heart and brain, and it will take at least 20 years to obtain accurate results. If you're a smoker, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Completely replacing cigarette smoking with a vaping product will reduce exposure to harmful chemicals, but it's important to wean off by gradually lowering the nicotine level.
If your child is addicted to vaping, there are a few things they can try to aid in quitting, such as switching from SaltNic e-liquid to regular e-liquid, dropping down in nicotine strength each time they buy a new bottle of e-liquid, avoiding vaping in the car and at home, or waiting longer periods between vaping sessions each week. Talking to a doctor or nurse practitioner can also be helpful when trying to quit vaping.
Quit groups are also a great way to find and maintain the motivation to quit. MANTRA's own Quit Crowd is a diverse and welcoming community of Manitobans looking to quit smoking or stay smoke-free. You can find The Quit Crowd on Facebook.
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