Risks of vaping by children: What parents can do

As e-cigarette use increases among teenagers, it’s important for parents and caregivers to know the associated risks and what they can do to foster healthy habits in their children.

Although the liquid used in e-cigarettes does not include tobacco, it contains nicotine, which is highly addictive and poses dangers to children, said Heather Felton, M.D., medical director of the UofL Pediatrics – Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre.

“Nicotine raises blood pressure and spikes adrenaline, thus increasing heart rate and the likelihood of having a heart attack,” Felton said. “It also can harm a child’s developing brain and parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control.”

The amount of nicotine in vaping liquids can vary among brands, but many contain more nicotine than a traditional cigarette. For instance, a single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes, Felton said. The liquid can be a poison when swallowed or absorbed through skin or eyes. Also, vaping often leads to traditional tobacco product use.

What parents can do:

  • Set a good example by being tobacco-free.
  • Talk to your child about vaping and the risks of use.
  • Seek help from your child’s physician to explain to your child the health risks of vaping.
  • Encourage teachers and administrators at your child’s school to enforce tobacco-free policies.