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What Every Parent Should Know About Teenagers and Vaping

Mark Mandell, Esq.

Vaping is a new trend that has come about in the last ten years. Its popularity has risen due to claims that vaping is much safer than regular tobacco products. Vaping is accomplished through e-cigarettes or vape pens, which use an atomizer to heat liquid to create a vapor that can be inhaled like a regular cigarette. Vaping is a popular party "activity" for teenagers, even as young as seventh grade. Teenagers are attracted to vaping due to the availability of fruit flavored oils that are then vaped and emanate a fruit smell and taste. Teens will also have competitions when vaping, such as an activity called "cloud chasing," during which participants will compete to blow as much smoke that person can create with his or her vaping pen.

Although claims have been made that vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, there are several dangers associated with this activity that should concern parents whose teenagers vape. One of the dangers, which has come about in the last few years, is an activity that many teens participate in called "dripping." Dripping is when a person drops the liquid used for vaping directly on to the hot atomizer, which produces larger amounts of smoke. However, this activity exposes teens to harmful toxins such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, which are known to be carcinogens. Additionally, the nicotine delivered through vaping is potentially more potent than the nicotine delivered through cigarettes, depending on the type of vaping pen being used. Finally, over 30 explosions of vaping pens were reported between 2012 and 2015.

Michigan law currently prohibits the sale of tobacco to minors. The law in Michigan is silent regarding the sale of nicotine products and vape products to minors. However, a bill was proposed in January of 2017 and adopted in May 2017 that will change the current language of the statute prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors to include the sale of any nicotine product and vaping materials. Additionally, due to its dangers, vaping is banned on a majority of college campuses in Michigan.

Of the many concerns regarding vaping and its dangers, the addictive nature of nicotine is the area of most concern. Nicotine is an addictive substance, and often leads to the exploration of more addictive substances, such as marijuana, opioids, and other highly addictive drugs. Parents should talk to their children and educate them on the dangers associated with vaping.

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