Vaping & Nicotine

Teen Vaping and Holding Juul Vape Pen

Vaping and nicotine use have increased significantly recently [1]. This is especially true among young people, including adolescents [1]. This trend is something that researchers are trying to understand.

Vapes, also called e-cigarettes, are electronic devices that heat up a liquid so it can be inhaled [2]. Some professionals believe that the increased use of vaping is influenced by the level of nicotine in e-cigarettes and the flavors available [1]. These factors may influence people’s perception about whether vaping is harmful or not.

Researchers are looking into this because studies are showing that e-cigarette use is harmful [1]. Vaping can cause long-term lung damage, damage to the immune system, exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, and nicotine dependence [1].

The health risks of nicotine use especially are concerning for adolescents [2]. This is because nicotine can negatively impact brain development. During adolescence, the brain is continuing to make huge changes. This phase of development continues until someone is around age 25 [1].

During this time, the parts of the brain that help people make logical decisions and control impulses are underdeveloped. Vaping during adolescence and someone’s early twenties can negatively impact this part of the brain [2]. Similarly, nicotine use during this time is shown to cause harm to the parts of the brain that are responsible for learning and controlling mood [2].

The way that vapes are marketed and the flavors they come in are shown to be two big reasons that adolescents start using these products [2]. There was a study done to see what could shift people’s views on vaping.

The researchers looked at how people thought about different types of vapes depending on how much nicotine they contained, the flavor, and known health risk [1]. The study shows that people were less likely to use vapes with higher nicotine content [1].

For people who smoke traditional cigarettes, they were more likely to start vaping even if the vape had high levels of nicotine with tobacco flavoring [1]. This wasn’t the case for non-smokers. People who don’t smoke traditional cigarettes were more likely to try vapes with different flavors, such as fruit or mint [1].

The information from this study may be used to create future government regulations on these products. For example, there may be restrictions on what type of flavors can be sold and the way these products are marketed [1].

Woman Girl Student Smiling with Purple HatWhile it’s unclear if these regulations will actually stop people from vaping, it is important for people who vape to be aware of what they are consuming. If people really knew what they were using, they may be less likely to try it.

Educating people, especially adolescents, on the facts about vaping, nicotine use, and the potential health consequences can be an effective prevention strategy. There are currently prevention programs aimed at providing education to young people about the real risks of these products.

Parents can help with prevention, too. It can be hard to talk with teens about substances, but there are a few ways to make the conversation more productive. Being calm and curious about your child’s views on nicotine can help them feel safer in sharing and to be honest with you.

Providing your child with a safe space to talk about these things can increase the chances of them being honest about what they really think about vaping and if they do it or not. During these conversations, you can also let your child know the real risks of using.

Another prevention strategy for parents is to keep the home nicotine-free. It’s going to be harder for a teen to believe that nicotine use is harmful if their parents are also smokers. This is important to consider since nicotine isn’t just damaging for teens. It’s harmful to everyone.


[1] Tobin, S.C. (2020, March 2). E-Cigarette characteristics may influence use and are potential targets for regulatory policy. National Institute on Drug Abuse. 

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, December 16). Quick facts on the risks of E-cigarettes for kids, teens, and young adults? 

About the Author:

Samantha Bothwell PhotoSamantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on February 19, 2021
Reviewed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 19, 2021
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.