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What we KNOW... and what we DON'T KNOW

Vaping is often a topic that parents do not want to discuss with their kids because there is not a lot of research available. We created this guide to help you better understand vaping, risk factors and how to talk with your child about vaping.



What is vaping?

E-cigarettes, vapes, mods, e-hookahs and tank systems are just a few of the many different names for e-cigarettes. Vaping is also referred to as juuling. Coming in many different shapes and sizes, most vaping devices contain a battery, a heating element and a place to hold liquid. E-cigarettes or vaping devices heat up liquid, which typically contains nicotine that users breathe from the device. These devices can contain flavored e-liquids, nicotine or marijuana.

Is vaping harmful?

Scientists are still learning about the long-term effects of vaping, and research has not shown if vaping is an effective method to quit use of smoking (combustible cigarettes). While e-cigarettes contain fewer harmful chemicals compared to burned tobacco products, these are not harmless and still contain many damaging or unhealthy chemicals, such as nicotine. The CDC has advised that vaping is not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products.

What are the risks of nicotine use?

Any form of nicotine use is highly addictive. Nicotine activates the adrenal glands to release the hormone commonly known as adrenaline and increases dopamine levels in the brain. The pleasure caused from the interaction of nicotine and the brain motivates the user to continue to use and crave nicotine. In addition, the heart, hormones and gastrointestinal system are all negatively impacted by nicotine. For youth and young adults, nicotine use can harm brain development, and this change can continue into the person’s mid-20’s. Nicotine use can harm developing fetuses and is not recommended during pregnancy.




There are many different types of electronic nicotine delivery systems (pictures not to scale).


Most consist of the following:

  • a cartridge or pod – which holds e-liquid, containing amounts of flavorings, nicotine and other chemicals.
  • atomizer – a heating element
  • battery or power source
  • mouthpiece

When a user puffs, this activates the battery-powered heating device to vaporize the e-liquid in the cartridge. The user then inhales the aerosol or vapor.







Navigating any conversation with a teenager or young adult can oftentimes be challenging if not approached correctly. Most parents avoid certain topics because they do not want to start an argument. Your child’s health, wellness and well-being is not a conversation that has to be avoided or difficult. Follow these steps to help encourage open discussion with your child about the risks associated with vaping.

  • Before the talk: Know the facts. Read through the front of this page. Get credible information about the effect of e-cigarettes on young people.
  • Be patient and be ready to listen. Encourage an open dialogue. Avoid criticism. Don’t deliver a lecture. The goal is to have an open conversation.
  • Be willing to have the conversation take place over time, in starts and stops. The discussion does not have to be a one-time, long conversation. Instead of saying “We need to talk”, you may want to ask your teen what he or she thinks when you encounter a related situation, such as seeing someone use an e-cigarette in person or in a video, passing an e-cigarette shop when walking or driving, or seeing an e-cigarette advertisement in a store, magazine or on the Internet.
  • Set a positive example by being tobacco-free and honest about your own tobacco use in the past.
  • Ask for support. Your healthcare provider is a great resource. The Tobacco Cessation Program at Fairfield Medical Center is designed to help tobacco users break the habit. Call the tobacco cessation coordinator at 740-689-4404 or email
Here are a few examples of how you could respond to your child’s questions:
    • I love you and care about your health. I want to make sure you understand all the facts about vaping and make the best choice for your health.
    • Almost all vaping products contain nicotine. Your brain is developing until your mid-20s, which makes your brain more vulnerable to forming an addition to nicotine.
    • Nicotine can make it harder for you to learn, concentrate and control your impulses.
    • There are other harmful chemicals in e-liquid, and when you inhale them you are damaging your lungs.
  • I used to think that too. After during some research, I learned that almost all vaping products contain nicotine. Next time you are your at your doctor’s office let’s ask about vaping to learn more about the risks.

    • There is not enough data to show the long-term effects of vaping.
    • Your brain is still developing and studies have shown that the chemicals in e-liquid can be harmful. You are vulnerable to forming a life-long addiction to nicotine.
    • Nicotine use can also effect your memory, mood, focus and concentration.





  • “Popcorn lung” is another name for bronchiolitis obliterans (BO), which is a rare condition that results from damage to the lungs’ small airways. BO was originally discovered when popcorn factory workers started getting sick. The cause of their illness was diacetyl, a food additive used to simulate butter flavor in microwave popcorn. Companies that manufacture flavored e-liquid, frequently add diacetyl to enhance the taste. Inhaling diacetyl causes inflammation and may lead to permanent damage in the smallest branches of the lungs’ airways — popcorn lung — which makes breathing difficult.

    • Symptoms: coughing, wheezing, chest pain or shortness of breath.
    • Treatment: Popcorn lung has no lasting treatment or cure. There are treatments that manage BO symptoms.
  • Unlike pneumonia caused by infection, lipoid pneumonia develops when fatty acids enter the lungs. Vaping-related lipoid pneumonia is the result of inhaling oily substances found in e-liquid, which sparks an inflammatory response in the lungs.

    • Symptoms: coughing, wheezing and/or shortness of breath.
    • Treatment: Supportive care can help the lungs heal, but eliminating what is causing the pneumonia is the best treatment option.
  • Primary spontaneous pneumothorax, or collapsed lung, occurs when oxygen escapes through a hole in the lung. This can be the result of sudden injury — such as a gunshot wound — or when blisters on the lungs rupture and create tiny tears. On their own, these blisters don’t typically produce symptoms’ and you don’t know you have them, unless they rupture. Smoking, and now vaping, are associated with an increased risk of bursting these blisters, which can lead to lung collapse.

    • Symptoms: sharp chest or shoulder pain, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
    • Treatment: A collapsed lung will typically heal with lots of rest and oxygen treatments. More severe cases may require a chest tube to drain leaked oxygen from the body cavity or surgery to repair the hole in the lung.
  • When a person vapes, they are inhaling a number of different chemicals into the lungs, many of which are known to be cancer causing agents. There is not enough data to show the long-term effects of vaping, and whether there is an association with lung cancer.

Why take the risk?

Driving 100 mph is risky. Driving 85 mph is less risky, but still dangerous. The same is true with traditional cigarettes and vaping. Take control of your health and reduce your risk of lung injury by avoiding smoking and vaping.

Call the tobacco cessation coordinator at 740-689-4404 or email Intake examinations are available if you do not have a primary care provider.