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Vaping Resources for Parents

Over the last few weeks, vaping has become a daily news topic. District 300 began incorporating anti-vaping lessons within our health and physical education units several years ago. While we continue to expand our educational approaches, we want to provide parents and guardians with information and resources that will allow you to speak with your children about the risks of vaping and e-cigarettes.

What is an Electronic Cigarette or Vape?

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, E-cigarettes, vapes, vape pens or hookah pens, e-pipes, and other vaping products are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale, or vape, aerosolized liquid (sometimes called “e-juice”). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that "E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. In addition to a battery, most have a heating element and a place to hold a liquid." While some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, the devices found in schools can look similar to (or even identical to) USB flash drives, pens, highlighters, credit cards, remote controls, or the drawstrings of a hooded sweatshirt. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state the most popular e-cigarette brand in the United States is called “JUUL” and it resembles a USB flash drive. 

What is Vaping:

The use of an e-cigarette, including JUULs, is often referred to as “vaping” or “JUULing."

According to the Center on Addiction, vaping is the “act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term ‘vaping’ is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that actually consists of fine particles. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart disease.”

E-cigarettes, including JUULs, come in a variety of flavors. Truth Initiative reports a study involving “middle school and high school students (and) found that 43 percent of young people who ever used e-cigarettes tried them because of appealing flavors.” 

Why is Vaping a Concern:

Vaping poses several potential health hazards:

  • Truth Initiative reports that one JUUL pod contains 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine. 

  • Youth are able to easily locate websites that provide simple instructions for how an individual can alter or “hack” e-cigarettes to add other products such as marijuana and marijuana derivatives.

  • According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, e-cigarettes “are NOT safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and can be harmful to brain development, which continues until about age 25. Using products that contain nicotine before age 25 can harm the part of the brain responsible for memory, attention, and learning. Other potentially harmful ingredients in e-cigarettes include volatile organic compounds, ultrafine particles, cancer-causing chemicals, and flavoring such as diacetyl, which is a chemical linked to “popcorn lung,” a serious lung disease. Additionally, certain toxic metals, including nickel, tin, and lead, which could be harmful if inhaled, have been found in e-cigarettes and vaping devices. There have also been incidents of e-cigarette batteries exploding or causing fires. Research on the health effects of secondhand aerosol is limited, but the secondhand aerosol is not harmless. It can contain harmful ingredients.”

Is it Illegal to Sell e-Cigarettes or Vaping Devices to Children?

While Illinois law prohibits the sale of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to anyone under 21, the reality is that young people continue to gain access to e-cigarettes and vaping devices at alarming rates.   

Unfortunately, the popularity of vaping has risen due to the common misconception amongst teens that it is harmless. Additionally, vaping has expanded to include the use of marijuana and marijuana derivatives (THC).

Where Can Parents Access Resources? 

The district has created - a dedicated webpage to providing parents with information useful vaping resources. 

The district will continue to incorporate vaping education in our health and physical education curriculum and we are currently working to develop an anti-vaping campaign with various student leader groups.

District 300 thank you for your support in our anti-vaping efforts.