Vaping: The New Epidemic

Health concerns about vaping are swirling throughout the nation as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently confirmed an 8th vaping-related death and has activated its emergency operations center to coordinate the investigation into about 500 cases of severe lung illnesses linked to electronic cigarettes.

Since May of this year, individuals in various states have suddenly become ill after using e-cigarettes, reporting symptoms that resemble a pneumonia, including coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing.

While there are many people in various age groups who vape, research shows that the number of teens who vape has doubled since 2017. The attractive and flavorful vape products, like mango and blue raspberry, certainly play a role in this growing epidemic among our youth and has led to discussions to ban the sale of e-flavored cigarette products throughout the country.

Here in New Jersey, specifically, Governor Phil Murphy announced the creation of a vaping task force to research the dangers of vaping, since we do not know enough about the short- and long-term effects. Legislators have also been discussing plans to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes throughout the state.

As the vaping investigation continues, I encourage you to stay connected to our social media pages and check out our website at DrugFreeNJ.Org for additional vaping information and to receive any updates. Also, if you are a parent of a teen, I encourage you to be on the lookout for these six signs that indicate your child might be vaping:

  • Unusual items. Some vaping devices resemble USB drives and pens that have holes in each end. They can also look like more traditional smoking devices. Also keep an eye out for refill pods, atomizers and cartridges, metal coils, and batteries that require recharging.
  • Sweet smell. Although odorless and scented liquids can be used in electronic smoking devices, many teens choose scented vapor. The most popular flavors are sweet so you may notice an unusually sweet smell, although it goes away quickly.
  • Changes in thirst and taste. If you child is more thirsty than usual, it might be because vaping is causing their mouth to be dry. A dry mouth also makes food taste less flavorful, so if your child is using more spices or salt, that may also indicate that they are vaping.
  • Nosebleeds. Vaping can also cause the nose to become dry, resulting in nosebleeds.
  • Less need for caffeine. Vaping causes some people to be more sensitive to caffeine. If your teen is skipping the daily caffeine fix, it may be time to look for other signs of vaping.
  • Unexplained cough, throat-clearing or mouth sores. Researchers have linked vaping to mouth wounds and a smoker’s cough.

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