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Originally Posted on Cleveland Clinic

If your child is vaping, now’s the time to help them quit

Teens and vaping — a troubling combination that’s been in the headlines a lot lately. Add a public health crisis to the equation and this combination has the potential to become even worse.

Recent numbers from the American Lung Association show that the number of teens using electronic cigarettes increased by 80% between 2018 and 2019. It’s not hard to understand why. With the perception that vaping is safer than smoking, vape juice flavors that are enticing to younger users and devices that make it easier to hide their habit, it’s apparent why vaping has become more appealing to teens.

Teen vaping by the numbers

According to pulmonologist and smoking cessation specialist Humberto Choi, MD, teen vaping has far surpassed cigarette smoking. “I think we have to ask ourselves why teenagers are vaping at such high rates — much higher than they have smoked cigarettes in the past,” says Dr. Choi. He believes this increase could be connected to social isolation, depression or even intense social pressure from friends.

“I visit schools and communities that are dealing with the issue of vaping. There are some schools where there’s a very high prevalence of vaping, especially among high schoolers. Sometimes the rates can be as high as 30-50% of students of vaping, so these numbers are dramatic,” Dr. Choi explains. According to Dr. Choi, it’s important that we gain a better understanding of why teens are vaping so we can work towards decreasing those numbers.

“With these high numbers, there are two things that we should worry about. The first one is access and the second one is motivation. I think the regulations on vaping can definitely help curb access, but we still need to understand the motivation. So, we have to ask ourselves why teenagers are vaping at such high rates,” says Dr. Choi.

What does vaping have to do with coronavirus (COVID-19)?

As with cigarette smoking, vaping can also compromise the respiratory system. This means that people who smoke or vape are more susceptible to lung infections. According to Dr. Choi, recent studies have shown that aldehydes and other components found in vaping liquids can impair the immune function of cells found in the airway and lungs.

“Everything that we inhale goes straight into the airways and into the lungs, which is different from our heart, our liver and our kidneys that are protected. But the lungs are exposed to the environment, so the lungs and the airways do have a defense mechanism against that. What vaping is doing is impairing this defense mechanism for the lungs,” says Dr. Choi.