You have a teenager? Let’s face it teenagers naturally want to experiment, particularly when it comes to drugs and alcohol, this isn’t new news and we were all teenagers once ourselves – but in the world of social media and online pressures, parents need to be on high alert to keep ahead of their kids. And just as you feel like you’ve informed yourself on the things you want to educate your children on, something new comes along and you’re left scratching your head.
If you don’t know the difference between a vape-pen and a box-mod, and you’ve never heard of terms such as MTL and DL, you’re not alone.
Many parents are uninformed about vaping and don’t know where to start to separate fact from fiction.
Alarmist press stories and inaccurate studies and reports have created an aura of fear over these products but don’t worry, we’re here to help decipher the lingo, alleviate any worries you may have and hopefully add balance and truth to this ongoing conversation.
How harmful are e-cigarettes?
When it comes to vaping, there are a lot of misconceptions regarding the risk they pose, and these falsehoods are particularly rife in online discussions.
Some common myths include e-cigarettes causing ‘popcorn lung’, that e-liquids aren’t regulated, and that they must be harmful as they contain nicotine. Thankfully, more credible sources are now supporting vaping’s case, so you’ll see these kinds of claims being debunked more often.
A review by Public Health England in 2015 found that e-cigarettes are at least 95% safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes, a stance that they reasserted in 2018 and which is backed up by the NHS.
This is primarily because e-cigarettes are not combusted and therefore don’t produce smoke which is the element of smoking where you’ll find the really dangerous stuff, such as tar and carbon monoxide (all the things that are well known to create serious long term harm to health). Although we can’t yet know for certain the long-term health impacts of vaping, you can be assured that faced with the alternative, it is safer in multitudes than smoking cigarettes.
Are e-cigs addictive?
E-cigarettes do often contain nicotine which is an addictive substance, which means that they are not aimed at children.
An important thing to remember though is that that vaping isn’t the same as nicotine addiction. In fact, many vapers, including teens trying e-cigs for the first time, choose to use nicotine-free e-liquids where any risk of addiction is removed entirely. Think of nicotine free e-cigarettes as similar to inhaling flavoured steam.
That said, nicotine on its own also poses a very low risk, producing similar physiological effects to caffeine.
There are also no known second hand properties caused by vaping – meaning those in the company of people vaping will see no detrimental affects to their health, unlike the known second hand properties created by smoking cigarettes.
In tobacco smoke, the dependence forming nature of nicotine is also enhanced by how it interacts with other chemicals found in cigarettes, none of which are contained in e-cigs.
With tobacco cigarettes, harm is caused by dangerous chemicals such as carbon monoxide and tar which enter the body by way of a combusted product. In fact, tobacco is known to contain around 60 carcinogens, chemicals which may cause cancer. These chemicals are not found in e-cigarettes and e-cigarettes are never combusted.
Are e-cigarettes a gateway to smoking?
A big concern parents have is that teens who use e-cigarettes may be more inclined to move on to smoking, and this is a topic that often grabs headlines in the media.
There is no concrete evidence that this occurs in the UK, in fact, various studies from bodies such as The Youth Tobacco Policy and ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) have confirmed that most e-cigarette experimentation does not turn into regular use, and the levels of regular use in young people who have never smoked remains incredibly low, at less than 1%.
Research undertaken by ASH has also confirmed that the overall smoking rates among young people have fallen in recent years which further undermines any claims that e-cigarette use will lead to smoking.
To support this, a recent PHE report on e-cigarette use has found that regular vaping remains low among young people, and has plateaued among adults.
Ultimately, it’s an impossible task to completely rule out the use of e-cigs among underage teens but when placed against the dangers of smoking tobacco, vaping represents a much safer alternative.
What should I do if I suspect that my child is using e-cigarettes?
Thankfully, here in the UK, parents can be reassured that e-cigarette usage among young people is quite rare. Studies have found that 2% of 11-18 year olds reported using e-cigarettes more than once a month, including 1% who use them weekly.
If you’re worried about your child’s vaping or general smoking habit, it may be worth encouraging them to visit their GP who will be able to discuss with them the real-life implications their habit is causing them.
If you discover that your child is using vaping products, it’s best to maintain an open and honest dialogue with them so that they can be reminded of the health implications and that they’re breaking the law.
1. Be prepared to talk open and honestly about the effects of nicotine (positive and negative)
2. Discuss with your child why they have chosen to use an e-cig, and what it is they like about it
3. Share your feelings on their e-cig use in a constructive manner
Selling e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18 is against the law so if your child is using them, you may wish to find out where they are sourcing them from so that action can be taken.
Overall, provide a safe space to discuss these matters with your children and consult medical professionals if you are concerned.
Do you market your products to young people?
E-cigarette manufacturers and vendors have a responsibility to be aware of their responsibilities in this area, which is why reputable companies like JAC Vapour do not market or promote vaping to non-smokers or under-18s.
When the European Union Tobacco Products Directive came into force in May 2016, most forms of advertising relating to vaping were banned, meaning that marketing these products to young people is prohibited. This, paired with the UK law which bans the sale of e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18, provides a strong deterrent to the promotion of vaping to young people.
What does the law say?
The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 include various stipulations that help ensure your child’s safety.
E-liquids and devices now must be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before they can be sold, and are subject to specific labelling requirements, including a prominent health warning.
Other restrictions have also been introduced. For example, nicotine-containing e-liquids cannot be sold in bottles larger than 10ml, packaging of e-liquids must be child-resistant and certain additives such as the stimulants caffeine and taurine have been banned.
These rules are in place to ensure that people who choose to switch to vaping can rest easy in the knowledge that their products are safe and regulated.