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Saturday, April 10, 2021

E-cigarettes and vaping: Parents, don’t be fooled

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Tobacco manufacturers are cashing in on the vaping trend. They have figured out dozens of ways to disguise the involvement of vaping. There is a chance that if your child is vaping, you may not even realize it.

Let’s first start our conversation by defining what an e-cigarette is. An e-cigarette is a device that simulates smoking a traditional cigarette. The electronic devices operate by inhaling for a delivery of the heated solution. The solution produces an aerosol that is inhaled. The solution almost always includes nicotine, which is highly addictive. An assortment of flavors is one of the biggest draws to vaping. In recent years, the tobacco industry has been aggressively growing their market and specifically targeting teens. E-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) have surged in popularity among young people — as young as 13 years old. Here in Indiana the tobacco industry spends about $298 million on marketing strategies each year.

Next, what is vaping? Vaping is the act of inhaling an e-cigarette. One would inhale vapor through the mouth and draw in and exhale from the e-cigarette. Some of the lures of vaping are: lower per use in cost, it has no smell and there is a lack of smoke, making it easy to disguise the act. Teens believe vaping is less harmful than traditional cigarette smoking, which is not true. Due to their young health development, vaping e-cigarettes affects young people in a different way than it does adults. There are many known health risks including impairing brain development, compromising the immune system (which is very risky during the COVID-19 pandemic) and lung injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 60 deaths associated with lung injures due to vaping.

Now to the core takeaway from this — a warning to parents. The tobacco companies are disguising everyday items designed to conceal vaping equipment from adults.

• Hoodie sweatshirts: A tube with an inverted vape pen at the drawstring. The pen is in a secret chest pocket. The vaping is done through a tube discreetly at the end of the drawstring.

• Backpacks: There is tubing and a mouthpiece in the shoulder strap for discrete vaping.

• Phone cases: Vaping phone cases fit over a smartphone just as a regular phone case. With this case one can attach an atomizer and vape.

• Pens: Vaping pens double as a writing instrument that look just like an ink pen. The top unscrews and one can vape with the inserted cartridge.

• Smart watches: These watches display time and dates like a regular smart watch. A press of a button will allow the top to be removed from the watch band and then remove a pod to vape.

• USB drive: A device from the Juul brand of e-cigarette (the most popular brand of choice) looks just like a USB drive for a computer.

• Puff bars: The latest accessory. It resembles a smaller size version of the Juul USB drive. It is a disposable one time hit. These puff bars emphasize more variety of flavors with bright color packaging to appeal to youth. One of the most dangerous facts regarding puff bars is it has not been established where they are made.  

As a parent, you have an important role in protecting children from e-cigarettes. Talk to your child or teen about why e-cigarettes are harmful. It is never too early or too late. Model a positive example by being tobacco-free. Tobacco teams in Marion County are working hard to get tobacco-free messages out to the community. Be vigilant on the tobacco industry’s schemes to disguise these everyday items.

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