Kids and Vaping: An Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of cure

Video highlights the toll that vaping is already taking on kids today and the importance of educating and alerting parents to how serious avoiding vaping is for the future of their children.

The following comments were submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as it considered ways to help addicted students quit vaping:

“PLEASE HELP! The vaping/e-cigarette use among teens in our community is increasing daily and our kids are getting addicted to nicotine. I have 2 students in high school, in Livermore, CA., a suburb of San Francisco Bay Area. My 16 year old son vapes and it is heartbreaking.” Submitted by P. C.

“My daughter started vaping in sixth grade. This is ridiculous! She is totally turned off by cigarette smoking, but this is so cool among her friends and she just doesnt appreciate the addictiveness or the danger. Could you please, please do something about this?! This is a health crisis unfolding before our eyes.” Submitted by M.S.

“I started finding Juul cartridges in my teenagers pant pockets. At first I had no idea of what it was. I thought a computer gadget of some sort. Then I found them in back pack pockets. Did dome research and learned what it was. Nicotine. By this time my teenage son had lost weight, was having a hard time keeping up with his track and field team training and had a change in appetite. Mango and cucumber flavors were his favorite. He purchased them at the corner delis and bodegas . He locked himself in the bathroom to Juul and Juuled at night and early in the morning when he thought we where not looking. I found so many pods even after serious conversations and repercussions for my son. I attended school talks on Juuling. But I realized now my son is addicted. Its no longer a do not try conversation… its a how can I help you quit emergency. The accessibility, the marketing, and the cool gadgety look with flavoring is criminal to teenagers!” Submitted by C.

“My name is A. H. and our son is a vap addict. Vaping has ruined who he is and changed his personality. His first vap was a JUUL. He has tried to stop many times but when he hasn’t vaped he gets violet and destructive.” Submitted by A. H.

“My son, and many of his NJ high school friends, are addicted to Juuling. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and due to social media and the ‘it’ factor of Juul, this has become a viral epidemic. I don’t have a comment on drug therapies, but the furtherance of this needs to be stopped in it’s tracks – immediately.” Anonymous

“Our 16 year old teen son is addicted to nicotine thanks to JUUL vaping. It has also caused a spiral of his grades and led to trying other substances. The accessibility of VAPEs to kids is a huge problem.” Submitted by A. S.

“My 13 year old daughter is in 8th grade. Unfortunately she gave in to peer pressure and tried a “Juul” in October of 2018. We found out she had a device and some “pods” that were given to her by a “friends older sibling”. We discarded the device and pods, explained at length the dangers of using this device etc. Just a few weeks later she was caught in the bathroom at school “vaping” and was suspended from school. My husband and I are at a loss as to what to do as these substances are so available and she reports that “everyone is doing it” “It’s everywhere”. I am a nurse and have talked with her many times about the dangers – many unknown as we do not currently know the long term cognitive effects not to mention the damage on the lungs. She said the Juul makes her ‘not care about things’.” Submitted by R. R.

“All I have to say is, if you had a child (in my case she is 11 years old) start using e-cigarettes (in my case she chose Juul) you would be beyond words as I am. She became quickly addicted and also tried other things as a means to get high. After all its cool right? You have no idea what addiction to nicotine can do to a child or do you? But they’ll even steal to get money to buy.” L.

The above comments illustrate the desperate state that parents find themselves in when realizing that their kids have become addicted to our new age nicotine products. The following resources explain steps that parents can take to try to help prevent their own kids from getting trapped into a lifetime of addiction.

How you can help prevent kids from vaping


Video discusses how former smokers have first hand knowledge of how they got trapped into nicotine addiction and how they can use that experience to their advantage to help prevent young people they care about from making the same mistake.

Related resources:

Thank goodness it’s only nicotine addiction

Video discusses how parents who write off their children’s use of nicotine containing products as a minor problem are sending a message that put their children’s long-term health and lives at risk. On top of that, by minimizing the dangers of taking up nicotine, they are increasing the risk of their children taking up other drugs that the parents are often more worried about.

1990 article referred to in the above video:

Thank goodness it’s only cigarette smoking

“It’s only cigarette smoking, at least he is not using drugs.” Many modern parents would feel a strong sense of agreement with the sentiment expressed above. But parents who feel safe and secure in this belief are overlooking some very obvious and some, not so obvious flaws in their understanding of smoking, and drug addiction in general.

In 1989, the Surgeon General’s Report on the Health Consequences of Smoking concentrated on one area only, smoking as an addiction. This landmark report established two facts about smoking in respect to nicotine’s addictive properties. First and foremost, nicotine is the addictive chemical reinforcing the smoking behavior, a behavior which is responsible for more deaths than all other drug addictions, including alcoholism, combined.

This was a reconfirmation of a concept which many knew already. So the feeling that at least smoking is not as bad as using drugs is a twisted sense of logic. The child is actually using a very addictive drug, although it is accurate to say at least it is a drug that he won’t end up in major troubles with the law over.

The second finding, though, would shatter the sense of relief felt by any parent with the idea that at least the child is not using an illegal controlled substance. Findings from various areas of the report went as follows:

Persons who use dependence-producing drugs are often cigarette smokers and cigarette smoking precedes and may be predictive of illicit drug use. The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (1985) reported a 32 fold increase in incidence of cocaine use in 12-17 year olds who smoked cigarettes daily compared to those who never smoked. Even more impressively, there was a 113 fold increase in use of marijuana.

Kandel found that virtually all persons who ever used illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine had previously used licit drugs such as cigarettes and alcohol.

“Although some use of alcohol may precede tobacco use, it is prior use of tobacco and not alcohol that emerges … as the stronger predictor of illicit drug use.”

Dr Ginzel of the University of Arkansas described the “pivotal role of tobacco as an integral part of the addictive process” and said that:

“In looking at tobacco as a gateway to the use of other addictive substances, we must not forget that smoking has caused the deaths of more people than have fallen victim to all of the other drugs and alcohol combined.”

“The general public’s continuing lack of understanding of the sheer magnitude of the toll tobacco inflicts is unfortunate, but the lack of understanding and appropriate action on the part of those who pretend to take charge of the nation’s drug problem is intolerable and inexcusable.”

The significance of these statements is inescapable. Giving the stamp of approval to smoking as an acceptable alternative to drug usage may very well lead to experimentation and possibly addiction to the substances the parent fears most.

Strong efforts should be taken by parents and the educational community at large to prevent the early use of cigarettes in an effort to reduce the long-term health consequences of smoking as well as minimizing the risks of illegal and life threatening usage of other controlled substances.

If you have children or grandchildren in schools, or if you yourself are a faculty member, please consider encouraging implementation of these smoking prevention programs for your school district.

If you have children who know you are or ever have been a smoker, you should never draw a distinction between smoking and other drugs of dependency while trying to rationalize the legitimacy of cigarette smoking over the other substances. Children will recognize and feed on the hypocrisy that it is all right for you but not for them.

Rather, tell the truth about the lack of understanding and ignorance that caused you to originally experiment with smoking and led you into the grips of an addiction_an addiction you desperately wish to break and stay free from for the rest of your life. Nicotine is an addiction which will once again control you and will probably cost you your life if you give it the opportunity.

Try to develop a sense of understanding in your children of how easy it is to lose control over an addictive substance, whether it be cigarettes, alcohol, heroin or crack cocaine. And for your sake, as well as your children, set a positive exemplary role by remembering to – NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!

© Joel Spitzer 1990

How to help kids stop vaping

Is your son, daughter, student or patient hooked on e-cigarettes, vape pens or Juuls? This short video explains a critical insight that parents, or other adults responsible for a vaping child or teenager, need to understand in order to help these young people successfully quit vaping.

Related resources:

Additional Smoking/Vaping prevention materials