What’s In Your Vape?

What's in your vape? Understanding youth vaping.

Understanding Youth Vaping

What is vaping?

“Vaping” is a term used to describe the act of using an electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) to inhale vaporized aerosol products called e-juice or e-liquid. ENDS include a wide variety of products that look like look like cigarettes, pens and thumb drives. Vapes are sold in vape shops, gas stations, convenience stores and online in the form of e-cigarettes, e-hookah pens, mods and tank systems.

How does it work?

A cartridge is filled with e-juice or e-liquid and placed into the battery operated device. Pressing the button on the device heats the e-liquid which forms an aerosol vapor. The aerosol is then inhaled. Devices can also be modified to vape marijuana in the form of wax, juice and oil.

What is a Juul?

A Juul (pronounced jewel) is a popular ENDS product used among youth, that resembles a USB flash drive. Each pre-filled prod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. According to the product website and Truth Initiative

Risk Factors

  • Weakened immune system
  • damage to gums and mouth
  • Respiratory problems, shortness of breath
  • Second hand vapor exposure
  • Nicotine addiction, higher risk for an adolescent brain
  • High blood pressure, irregular heart beat
  • Headaches, dizziness
  • Agitation, insomnia
  • By-products when heated can include ethylene glycol (anti-freeze); benzen (car exhaust); and heavy metals such as tin, zinc and cancer causing agents called carcinogens

What you can do

Have the conversation

children begin experimenting with vaping, tobacco, alcohol and Marijuana at young ages. It is important to start the conversation early and continue through the teen years. Communicate your values and messages clearly. Share your concern for their health and safety.

Have a clear message

Make sure your teen knows your expectations. Substance use is not a rite of passage, and not all kids experiment with drugs and alcohol. Teens who use substances have more problems with school, the law, their health and forming healthy relationships. Let them know there are consequences to substance use – both in terms of their health and for breaking your expectations.

Set a good example

Be a role model for healthy habits. If you use tobacco, it is never too late to quit. If your teen is vaping, quit together by visiting smokefree.gov truthintiative.org/quitecigarettes

Use teachable moments and normalize the discussion

Have a discussion when you see or hear a vaping advertisement, when there is a story about substance abuse in the news or while driving in the car

Recognize vape devices and products

Research information about e-cigarettes and vaping on the surgeon general website. Know what these devices look like and understand how they work. This is an ever-changing industry – understand what is appealing and how vaping impacts current teens.

Get help

Parents often underestimate the seriousness of drug use. Seek out a professional and ask for help. Reach out to a guidance counselor or call a nearby counseling center to access prevention education and intervention services for an evaluation. Your child’s future depends on it. Know The Risks – Take Action

Did you know?

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. middle school and high school students for the fourth year in a row in 2017. Results from the National Youth Tobacco Use Survey, FDA, 2018.
More than 2 million middle school, highschool and college students vape CDC, 2017

E-cigarettes use and Juuling are NOT a safe alternative to other forms of tobacco

Youth who smoke e-cigarettes are becoming conventional cigarette users after initiating with e-cigarettes. Michigan Tobacco Section; Electronic Cigarettes, August 2016

It’s against the law

The FDA regulates e-cigarettes which includes Juuls as “tobacco products.” Under FDA Tobacco Control Act it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes to a minor under 18 years of age. Michigan Tobacco Section; Electronic Cigarettes, August 2016

Use of vape devices for marijuana

Among those who reported vaping, nearly 1 in 3 high school students and about 1 in 4 middle school students reported using cannabis in their vape devices. Journal of American Medical Association, 2018

Vaping marijuana – increased risk

THC levels found in marijuana concentrates/oil, which are used in vaping devices are 2-4 times higher than plant use.
The higher the concentration of THC, the higher the likelihood of addiction and adverse medical consequences
— Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
Facts about marijuana concentrates

Marketing to youth

E-cigarette companies use celebrity endorsements, novelty products and flavorings to attract youth. Research shows flavorings play a key role in youth using tobacco products like e-cigarettes Industry Watch – Juul E-cigarettes: A New Threat To Kids


Half of youth who use vape products report they obtained them by borrowing it from someone else. They can also purchase it for themselves over the internet. Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth Survey / Oakland County, 2018

Talking to your kids

Conversations can be a powerful tool parents can use to connect with and protect kids. When tackling a tough topic, such as vaping, figuring out what to say can be challenging. Here are some sample conversations that may be helpful.

  • Scenario: At least I am not smoking.

    What to say: vaping is dangerous. Just like smoking, putting chemicals and nicotine into your body can affect your health. I want you to make healthy choices and stay away from all drugs and alcohol.

  • Scenario: your child tells you their friend offered them to vape on the us or in the bathroom.

    What to say: I appreciate you telling me, I hop you and your friends will stay away from vapes and Juuls. Vaping because you think it is cool, or trying it because everyone else is doing it is really dangerous. You are exposing yourself to nicotine which can hurt your body and be addictive. You do not know if that vape device had vape juice or marijuana oil in it. I just want you to be safe and healthy.

  • Scenario: Your child says, “it can’t be that bad because everyone is doing it.”

    What to say: Science shows that nicotine is harmful for the body, especially teens. We don’t know how bad vaping truly is because it has not been around long enough to study long term effects. What experts do know is that toxic materials are generated when you heat up the vape juice. Also, vapes with defective batteries can catch on fire. Nicotine and marijuana use can negatively impact your developing brain, making it harder to concentrate and think clearly.



  • Truth Initiative