Monday 2 March 2020

Youth Vaping: Your Questions Answered

Submitted by: Dawn Fortune & Jill Lambden, Team Members of Alberta Health Services’ School Health & Wellness Promotion Team, with support from the AHS Provincial Tobacco Reduction Program

Vaping is a hot topic these days. Sometimes it seems like everywhere you look, there’s a new story about vaping rates, vaping-related illness, or vaping-related policy changes.

Like many concerned adults, teachers are trying to understand the ins-and-outs of vaping trends, especially when it comes to their students.

Read on to learn more about what you can do to boost your knowledge and skills for quality conversations about vaping – with your students, their families, and others in the school community.

What is vaping, anyway?            

Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol produced by a vaping device. Common names for vaping devices include: e-hookahs, electronic or e-cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), vape pens, or vapes. Vaping devices have a battery, a reservoir to hold a liquid solution, a heating element, and a mouthpiece. The heating element heats the liquid solution into vapors, which then condense into aerosols and are inhaled through the mouthpiece.

What’s in the vaping liquid? 

It is hard to know what exactly is in vaping solution (often called e-juice or e-liquid) Health Canada is still working toward labeling regulations. The liquid solution varies in composition but is usually propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin based, combined with flavor. E-liquid may also contain nicotine, varying from low levels to more than what is found in a typical cigarette. 

Is vaping dangerous?

Vaping increases a person’s exposure to chemicals that have health risks. E-cigarettes are a relatively new product and more research is needed in order to learn about the risks. Given what we do know so far, the Government of Canada recommends that non-smokers, people who are pregnant, and young people should not vape.

As a teacher, what can I do about students’ vaping?

As an educator, what you do matters. Here are some ways you can be involved:
·         Share information about vaping that is science-based and credible. Great classroom resources can be found on Seeing through the vape, an online learning module for teachers, can help build your own background knowledge about vaping.
·         Talk to students about vaping in a supportive and non-judgmental way. Talking with your teen about vaping: A tip sheet for parents, available in both French and English, offers helpful advice to get the conversation going.
·         Help students build social emotional skills so they’re better able to make decisions, resist peer influence, and achieve their goals. CASEL is the perfect place to learn more.
·         Help students who are already vaping to find support to quit. Students can access the AHS Addiction Help Line, a free, confidential service from AHS.  You can also contact your local AHS Addiction and Mental Health Office to find out what other supports are available in your community. Check out our list of services by AHS zone here.