Everything parents need to know about vaping

Is your child vaping, or are you worried they may start? In this guide we cover how vaping affects their health, how to talk to them about it, and more.

As vaping continues to gain popularity among teenagers and young adults in the UK, it is essential for parents to stay informed about nicotine vape prescription and provide guidance to their children about the potential risks and consequences of this trend.

Research conducted by the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) organisation found that 7% of 11-17 year olds in the UK in 2022 were current vape users, while 15.8% had tried vape products. Some acquired a vape prescription Smokefree clinic.

In this blog post, we will discuss what vaping is, its effects on health, and how it compares to other nicotine products, including traditional smoking and disposable vapes.

What is vaping?

Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling vapour produced by an e-cigarette or another vaping device. E-cigarettes use a liquid solution called e-liquid, which typically contains nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerol, and various flavours.

Unlike traditional cigarettes, vapes do not produce tobacco smoke but instead create an aerosol by heating the e-liquid, which is then inhaled through the mouth and into the lungs, to be exhaled out of the mouth or nose. 

Why is vaping becoming more popular?

Vaping is becoming more popular for several reasons. Many people believe that vaping is a safer alternative to traditional smoking, as it does not involve burning tobacco and producing harmful tar and carbon monoxide.

Many smokers turn to vaping as a nicotine alternative. E-cigarettes can provide a similar sensation to smoking, but with the ability to gradually reduce nicotine levels, making it easier for some people to make the switch.

Additionally, vape liquids come in a wide range of flavours, which can be more appealing than the taste of traditional cigarettes. This variety attracts users who enjoy experimenting with different tastes and customising their vaping experience.

From a style and accessibility perspective, vaping devices are often more discreet than traditional cigarettes, producing less noticeable odour and allowing users to vape in various locations where smoking might be frowned upon or prohibited.

How does vaping affect our health?

While the long-term effects of vaping are still being researched, evidence suggests that  nicotine addiction can have a negative impact on our health. 

Nicotine has been proven to increase blood pressure and heart rate as it is dispersed throughout the bloodstream, and it can affect people with cardiovascular issues.

In a few cases, vape liquids containing Vitamin E and THC have been linked to some hospitalisations, but these substances are illegal in the UK, and shows the importance of purchasing your vape liquid from a reliable retailer.

Parents and vapers should also be aware of the dangers of nicotine addiction, which can be more likely in those who purchase vape liquid with a high nicotine content.

Is vaping healthier than cigarettes?

While vaping is considered less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes, it is not without risks. Many people mistakenly believe that e-cigarettes are completely safe, without being aware of the dangers of nicotine. 

However, vape liquids contain far less of the harmful chemicals that are in cigarettes, and have been found by recent studies to be 95% less harmful than tobacco. Without the thousands of harmful and carcinogenic chemicals contained in cigarettes, vaping may be a healthier alternative to smoking. This should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, though, and those with cardiovascular or heart problems should use caution when using vape devices.

What are the dangers of disposable vapes?

Disposable vapes pose several unique risks. Firstly, they contribute to environmental waste due to their single-use nature.

Secondly, disposable vapes often lack the same quality control and regulation as reusable devices – of which is outlined in the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR), often meaning they are packed with potentially harmful materials or chemicals that are then inhaled by users. Disposable vapes often contain higher nicotine concentrations, increasing the likelihood of addiction.

Despite legal age restrictions for purchasing e-cigarettes and vape products, many children can still easily access them through online and retail sources. Some retailers may not adequately enforce age restrictions, while online stores can make it difficult to verify a buyer’s age. Additionally, young people may acquire vaping devices from friends or peers who share or sell them within their social circles.

You may be able to identify unauthorised and potentially dangerous vapes by their larger size, containing higher than 2% nicotine ( the UK legal limit) and claims on their packaging to deliver more than 500 puffs.

How should you speak to your child about vaping?

When discussing vaping with your child, it is crucial to approach the conversation with openness and understanding. Provide accurate information about the health risks and consequences, and encourage your child to share their thoughts and feelings about the subject. Offer support and help them explore alternative ways to cope with stress and social pressure that may lead them to vape.

Establishing open communication and offering guidance can go a long way in helping your child make informed decisions about vaping without them feeling alienated or pressured.

As parents, it is vital to stay informed and proactive in guiding our children through the complex world of vaping. By understanding the risks, being aware of the methods children use to obtain e-cigarettes, and maintaining open communication with our children, we can help protect them from the potential harm that vaping may cause.

Photo by Sebastian Radu