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How to Spot Teen Vaping

Updated: Mar 5, 2019

Is your teen using flavored tobacco, vapes, or JUUL’s?

There are 15,000 tobacco flavors and counting! That’s how many flavored tobacco products are currently accessible to youth, all of which are packaged in deceptive ways. Scary, isn’t it? You might be wondering, why are youth interested in flavored tobacco? We’ve been telling them for years that tobacco is dangerous. Youth use flavored tobacco because it tastes like candy, it’s packaged in a way that is not easily recognized, and it is seamless to fill their vape and JUUL devices with these flavors. And they may not even know that it has nicotine and can be addicting and harmful.

While California State Law prohibits the sale of tobacco to anyone under 21, kids are still getting their hands on tobacco products.Tobacco companies have a particular interest in youth to be their newest customers and it’s not going to change. If tobacco companies are going to continue to entice youth, it would help if coaches, mentors and parents learned how to identify which youth within their sphere of influence might be using flavored tobacco products and how they are getting it.

Some signs that may show a youth may be vaping or Juuling:

  • Their room smells artificially sweet, don’t assume it’s a scented candle.

  • Nosebleeds are common among JUUL users.

  • Many vapors report increased thirst.

  • There is often a heightened caffeine sensitivity.

So how do they get them? Here are common ways youth are getting tobacco products:

  • Vape products are all over social media, and many promote the sale of their products right from their accounts.

  • Website age gates are easily bypassed, and kids use a parent’s name for shipping. In fact, kids successfully buy e-cigs online 94% of the time.

  • Clerks at tobacco shops, vape stores, gas station and convenience stores might not enforce the law to not sell to anyone under 21 years old.

  • Many vape companies have names that wouldn’t raise a red flag on parents’ credit card statements.

  • Online orders can be delivered to Amazon lockers in supermarkets or convenience stores.

  • Orders can also be shipped to the homes where parent(s) are at work when the delivery comes.

Vapes like Juul can be hard to spot. Juuls look like flash drives and are charged by plugging them into a computer's USB port.

Now that you have a better understanding of how to identify if your youth is using flavored tobacco products and how they are getting it, here are examples of how tobacco companies are packaging their flavored tobacco products and vaping devices. These include pod style vapes that use flavored tobacco cartridges, tanks that users fill with e-liquid, disposable cigarette-like vapes, and candy flavored e-liquids used to fill vapes.

You’re not alone in this. There’s plenty of ways you can make a difference in the lives of your kids and in your community. Here are just a few ideas:

Additional resources:

US Surgeon General, Know the Risk: E-cigarettes & Young People Get tips on how the talk with your teen can be successful experience for both of you.

Click here

Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids, The Flavor Trap Get a handle of tobacco industry’s tactics, both current and past, to hook kids for link.

Click here

New York Time, The JUUL is too Cool Learn about the cultural impact of the JUUL e-cig from this kid-focused on-the-ground

reporting. Click here

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