Vaping and e-cigarettes have been around a while, since early 2007 at least. However, as the fall of cigarette smoking has decreased in recent years, the rise of e-cigarettes and vaping has taken a drastic uptick.
Although originally seen as a less carcinogenic alternative to cigarettes, we are just now learning about the dangers of vaping. The American Lung Association warns that most liquids used in vaping tobacco products may contain excessive levels of nicotine and other substances such as formaldehyde that can harm health.
For these reasons, and because vaping under the legal age of 18 is illegal, parents should be aware if their child is vaping or smoking e-cigarettes.
Vaping signs, physical signs
It may be hard to tell if your child is vaping, many teens have gotten used to discreetly using vape products in school, as well as at home. Although there may be tell-tale signs, just because your child exhibits some of the traits below, it doesn't mean they are vaping.
- Unusual items. Some vaping devices resemble common items like USB drives and pens so they may not be that easy to spot, keep an eye out for these everyday items with holes on both ends where they can insert refill pods, atomizers and cartridges, which some vaping devices use, and batteries that require recharging. Organic cotton balls and thin metallic coils are other components used when vaping.
- 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. The process of vaping makes users’ mouths dry. So if you see kids drinking more than usual, it may be a sign they’re vaping. A dry mouth also makes food taste less flavorful, so if your child is using more spices or salt, that may also be a clue.
- Nosebleeds. Vape tricks may include exhaling vapors through the nostrils, this causes the nose to get dry and ultimately cause nosebleeds.
- Less need for caffeine. Vaping causes some people to be more sensitive to caffeine or in some cases, replaces caffeine. If your teen is skipping their 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 that won’t heal and a smoker’s-like cough.
Again, if your child exhibits these signs, don't jump to conclusions and lose your mind! A calm conversation always is the best approach to dealing with a sensitive subject with your already sensitive teen.
Popular vaping signs, terminology
We never condone breaching the privacy of your child/teen, but if you happen to hear or come across there popular vaping terms, it may be time to ask some questions.
- 401, 402, 403, and 501: types of e-cigs that look alike but they use different battery sizes. 501 is the most common size.
- Ghosties: a term for a vape-hiding product
- Ghosting: using an e-cig to produce very little vapor by holding in a hit until the exhale is nearly invisible.
- Juul - pronounced 'jewel,' this is a popular vape brand.
- ADV: this is an abbreviation for All Day Vape which refers to e-liquid that one can vape repeatedly — or all day — and not tire of using.
- Squonking – The act of pressing the e-liquid bottle via the opening in the mod and then liquid is fed by pressure via a tube into your atomizer.
- Tailpiping – Direct dripping without a drip tip attached.
- Unicorn bottle – E-liquid bottles that hold 15 ml or 30ml with a tip that is easy to drip with. Great for carrying liquid when traveling.
- Vapehole – A vaper that could care less about the people around them and acts obnoxious while vaping.
- Vapegasm – That first taste you get from your favorite e-liquid in a new atomizer.
Let's take a minute to catch our collective breaths.
With all of the news reports on the multiple illnesses and deaths, it's easy for a parent to become overwhelmed with worry. The good news is that vaping isn't the worst thing your teen could be doing, but their health and continued development is more important than avoiding the pain.
Learn how to talk to your child about the risks of vaping.
Lauren is Co-founder and CMO of momsplained.com. A single mom, marketing pro, and avid DIYer, she spends her days playing as much as she works and working as much as she dreams. “Omnia Feminae Aequissimae (women are equal to everything).” – Lady Hale