Many people think of e-cigarettes as a less harmful alternative to smoking cigarettes. But, health experts are now warning of a “vaping epidemic” among teenagers – saying that e-cigarettes can cause a number of health problems.

E-cigarettes, also called vape pens, are devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. Originally created as a tool to help wean adults off of smoking, e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used form of tobacco by American teens – and that’s not a good thing.

Why are e-cigarettes harmful?

Most teenagers mistakenly believe that e-cigarettes don’t cause much harm to their health because they aren’t smoking them, but e-cigarettes contain a number of ingredients that can cause lung disease.

“We don’t fully understand the consequences of e-cigarettes, but we do know that nicotine is harmful and inhaling chemicals can cause serious breathing problems,” said Sam Parsia, MD, a pulmonologist with Adventist Medical Group.

Further, e-cigarettes contain nicotine which can cause these serious health problems:

  • Nicotine is addictive whether its smoked or vaporized
  • Brain Development Problems. Nicotine can harm brain development, which continues until age 25
  • Behavior Risks. Teens and young adults who use e-cigarettes are more likely to use other tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars or hookah.

What can I do for my child?

“If you believe your child might be using e-cigarettes or hookah, it’s important to open a dialogue and offer them support to help them quit,” said Roberto Rubio, tobacco cessation counselor at Adventist HealthCare. “Our program treats adults, but there are plenty of resources for teenagers.”

Roberto suggests these resources to help teens who use tobacco products quit.

If you are concerned that your child might be using e-cigarettes, try these tips:

  • Know the Facts. Learn about why e-cigarettes are harmful by talking with your physician or use online resources like E-cigarettes.SurgeonGeneral.gov.
  • Start the Conversation. Find the right time to naturally bring up e-cigarettes and be ready to listen.
  • Be a Positive Example. Make your home tobacco-free. If you need help quitting, find a tobacco-cessation program or talk with your physician.
  • Get Support. Whether it’s a physician, trusted clergy-member or tobacco-cessation program, find support for you and your child.

Ready to quit smoking? Get a FREE Tobacco Cessation Program consultation from Adventist HealthCare.