Learn about e-cigarettes, vapes, and use by young people

In recent years, e-cigarette use has increased 900% among high school students in the United States. (E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2016)

In 2015, almost 50% of Massachusetts high school students reported having used e-cigarettes at least once.1 Massachusetts youth use e-cigarettes at a rate of nine times more than adults.2

Electronic cigarettes (also known as “e-cigs,” “vapes,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)”) are battery-powered devices that heat liquid into a vapor for the user to inhale. Electronic cigarettes come in varying shapes and sizes. One of the most popular vaping devices, JUUL, has a sleek, modern design that resembles a USB drive.

The liquid (also known as “e-liquid,” “juice,” or “pods”) in vaping devices almost always contains nicotine, a highly addictive substance that can lead to serious health consequences, especially for young people whose brains and bodies are still developing. Some e-liquid, including the e-liquid contained in JUUL pods, have a notably high nicotine concentration. The nicotine concentration of JUUL pods is 5%. In terms of nicotine consumption, vaping one pod is equivalent to 200 puffs or one whole pack of traditional combustible cigarettes. E-liquids may also contain other unhealthy chemicals and compounds, including heavy metals, ultrafine particles, and carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals).

According to both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Surgeon General, e-cigarette use among young people is unsafe.

1 Health & Risk Behaviors of Massachusetts Youth, 2015
2 Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Resources for schools and teachers

Resources for parents and adults

  • Electronic Cigarettes: What’s the Bottom Line? – A fact sheet with infographics by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention with information about e-cigarettes, the chemicals in e-cigarette aerosol, and the health effects. The fact sheet is available in English and Spanish.
  • Knowing the Risks: E-Cigarettes & Young People – A website created by the U.S. Surgeon General with information for adults and youth about e-cigarettes and the associated health risks. The website includes resources in Spanish.
  • Talk with Your Teen About E-Cigarettes: A Tip Sheet for Parents – A two-page fact sheet from the U.S. Surgeon General with information for parents about how to have a conversation with your children about e-cigarettes and vaping.
  • E-Cigarettes Shaped Like USB Flash Drives: Information for Parents, Educators, and Health Care Providers – A four-page brochure developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with facts and infographics about e-cigarettes and JUUL and information about how parents, educators and health care providers can help prevent and reduce e-cigarette use among young people.
  • Teachers and Parents: That USB Stick Might Be an E-Cigarette – A one-page poster developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about e-cigarettes and JUUL.
  • The New Look of Nicotine Addiction (Massachusetts Tobacco and Cessation Program):
    • Get the Facts – A webpage with information about vaping, types of e-cigarettes, how parents can tell if their child is vaping, and other frequently asked questions.
    • Vaping Fact Sheet – A one-page fact sheet available in English and Spanish with information about e-cigarette use among youth in Massachusetts and vaping industry tactics.
    • Frequently Asked Questions About Vaping – A four-page brochure with information about e-cigarettes, e-liquids, and health risks.
    • Information for Parents – A webpage with information about how parents can talk with your children about vaping and how parents and youth can get involved in community efforts around tobacco control and prevention.
    • Tips for Talking with Your Kids About Vaping – A one-page fact sheet with information and tips for parents about how to have a conversation with your children about e-cigarettes and vaping.

Nicotine and substance addiction treatment resources

Talk to your children’s pediatrician, who may be able to provide treatment or make a referral, if you are concerned that your child is vaping and/or addicted to vaping.

You may also want to consider these programs (which do not constitute an exhaustive list of available resources):

  • Adolescent Substance Abuse Program (ASAP)
    Boston Children’s Hospital
    617-355-2727
    Website
  • CATALYST Clinic
    Boston Medical Center
    617-414-6655
    Website
  • The Addiction Recovery Management Service (ARMS)
    Massachusetts General Hospital
    617-643-4699
    Website
  • Tobacco Research and Treatment Center (TRTC)
    Massachusetts General Hospital
    617-726-7443
    Website
  • E-Cigarette Quit Program
    Truth Initiative
    Website
  • Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline
    1-800-327-5050
    www.helplinema.org
  • Massachusetts Smokers’ Quitline
    1-800-QUIT-NOW
    Website
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