The FDA recently ordered all Juul e-cigarette products off the shelves, a decision that has been in the works for two years following the rapid rise of underage vaping. Parents are concerned that their kids may look for other products or turn to actual cigarettes—both strong possibilities. Vaping isn’t safe. Connecticut Children’s Medical Director of the Division of Pediatric Pulmonology, Dr. Melanie Sue Collins, addresses three reasons why.

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1. The earlier, the worse.

When kids start to use nicotine earlier—as we’ve seen in the rise of underage vaping—their brain receptors change. This means they will become more addicted to nicotine now, versus when they would have started later in life. Not to mention, drug and alcohol use can affect brain development, especially because major learning, memory and adaptation milestones in the brain happen during adolescent years.*

2. The flavors are a trick.

The “great-tasting” fruit and menthol flavor has been advertised to teens looking to vape. The belief that something that does not taste like tobacco is safe and nicotine free is false. Despite tasting “good”, you still never know what chemicals are lurking in “vape juice.” And, no, it’s not “just” water vapor...

3. Vaping is a possible gateway.

This bears repeating because parents are right to be concerned. A 2019 study showed that young people who vape are four times as likely to become cigarette smokers as those who don’t. Furthermore, when a child learns how to inhale cigarettes or vape, the nicotine gives them a positive reinforcement or “good feeling”.  When this happens, children will likely associate inhaling with a good feeling, which is a dangerous mindset when it comes to cigarettes and other drugs. This is not something we want to teach children.

Our advice is to have these important conversations as early as possible with your child, and always keep the lines of communication open.  

Here are some helpful resources:

*Source Cited: Drug Use During Brain Development: The Wrong Insult At The Wrong Time - Addiction Center