Teens and Vaping – What We Need to Know

by Nicole Youcupicio, Casa Grande Alliance, Prevention Specialist

E-cigarette use, or vaping, is on the rise among youth across the country. Casa Grande is no exception.

E-cigarette use is now the third most common substance abused by youth in Casa Grande at 13.7%, following marijuana at 14.3% and alcohol at 20.2%.1

The trend is steadily growing. We must proactively combat the misperceptions many of our kids have about e-cigarettes and vaping.

An e-cigarette is an electronic device containing a solution of nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals that is heated and inhaled into the lungs. While using an e-cigarette is often called “vaping,” this terminology is very misleading. The devices actually produce an aerosol, not a vapor. The aerosol from an e-cigarette can contain tiny chemical particles from both the liquid solution and the device (e.g., metals from the heating coil).

E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes and can be difficult to spot. They can look like pens, cigarettes, USB drives or even inhalers. They also go by many names and teen-specific terminology that we need to know. The most common e-cigarette products are JUUL, Vape pen, V8 Stick, Mods (Modify), Suorin, BO/ BO caps, and E-Juice. The slang terms used by teens use are rip, hit, drip or dripping, Juuling, ghosting, coil, juice and nic.

With all of the e-cigarette marketing in recent years, it is not surprising how quickly the use of this product has grown in our country. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey in 2018, the use of e-cigarettes among high schoolers increased by 78% in just one year.2

E-cigarettes are marketed as a “much safer alternative” to smoking traditional cigarettes. Although they do not contain tobacco, they do contain the same addictive chemical as traditional tobacco products, nicotine. The amount of nicotine in the solutions can vary widely depending on the manufacturer.

The most popular with youth, the JUUL, contains 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine in one pod.3 With that much nicotine in one pod, the rate for addiction among youth skyrockets while their brains are still developing. The brain, on average, is not finished developing until the ages of 25 to 30 years old.

Because of the clever and strategic marketing, most kids believe they are just “vaping” flavored liquid. A recent study by the Truth Initiative found that among current youth and young adult JUUL users, only 37% knew the product always contains nicotine.3

Although this new substance abuse trend is frightening and alarming, we all can help to prevent it. Let’s talk with our teens.

Sounds simple enough, but studies show one of the top reasons why kids choose not to use alcohol and other drugs is because they do not want to disappoint a parent or another caring adult in their life.4 By having open and honest conversations and setting clear boundaries, we can help steer our teens away from drugs.

Teens whose parents talk to them regularly about the dangers of drugs and alcohol are 50% less likely to use drugs, yet over 60% of Pinal County teens report never having these important conversations.4,5

Help build awareness about the dangers of vaping by learning more.

If you would like more information on how to talk to your children about drugs and alcohol, please call the Casa Grande Alliance at 520-836-5022. If you would like to schedule a presentation about teens and vaping, call the Pinal County Public Health Department at 520-866-7335.

1. Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, Arizona Youth Survey – Casa Grande. (2018).
2. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, The National Tobacco Youth Survey. (November 2018).
3. Truth Initiative, Behind The Explosive Growth of JUUL report. (Spring 2017).
4. Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, Arizona Youth Survey – Pinal County. (2018).
5. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, Parents: What You Say—and What You Do—Matters to Your Kids. (March 2011).