Share this Vaping 101 infographic to help educate teachers and staff about vaping.
What educators need to know
Educators spend almost as much time with students as their parents and caregivers do. They may see student and group behaviors that family members might not.
Many students believe that vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes or using other types of tobacco products. Some of them even believe that vaping doesn’t cause harm at all - and that vape products don’t contain addictive and harmful chemicals. It’s true that vape products contain fewer chemicals than cigarettes, but what they do contain is still unhealthy and potentially dangerous. Most products do contain highly addictive nicotine, and using them can have serious health impacts.
Vape products and e-cigarettes are just as addictive as cigarettes, and the amount of nicotine in a vape product can vary. The bottom line is that vaping is harmful, addictive, and not safe for students (no matter how many of their friends or family members have tried it). Although vape products are used more by some groups of teens, other tobacco products, like cigarettes, are still used by teens as well.
The Tobacco 21 law
In December of 2019, the United States raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarette products to 21. This law is often referred to as Tobacco 21. States across the country are working to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarette products from 18 to 21, to comply with the federal law.
What we know and what we don't know
Vape products haven’t been around long enough for us to know how vaping will impact health throughout a lifetime. However, we do know some of the health risks for students who vape:
- Sleep issues
- Mental health issues
- Lung damage
- Breathing in chemicals that cause cancer
We also know that there are some long-term costs and effects associated with vaping:
- Money – Vaping is expensive.
- Addictions – Vaping can lead to other addictions over time.
- Academic issues – Vaping can affect memory, concentration, mood, and impulse control.
- Sports and fitness – Vaping can make it hard to breathe, run, and participate in sports or activities.
New information about the harm that vaping causes continues to be released. It is very clear that vaping is not the healthy alternative to cigarettes that it was advertised to be.
Companies are targeting students
The vaping and tobacco industry is constantly evolving, so we need to be aware of their tactics, and their new and existing products the industry uses to attract new, younger consumers. Companies use tools like social media to reach students and influence them to try their products. Government agencies work to enforce regulations around devices and ingredients, but the industry adapts to continue selling their products.
Companies are also taking everyday products that students use and turning them into devices that can be used to vape. Things like hoodies, pens, backpacks, smart watches, and phone cases are now available as vaping devices that help students hide vaping at school and at home.
Advocacy groups will continue to hold the industry accountable and support regulations to help keep students and families safe.
Comprehensive tobacco-free district policies
Tobwis.org created a helpful tool for community coalitions and school districts to use to create or update comprehensive tobacco-free district policies, engage students in the work, and build commercial tobacco-free environments within the community.
E-Learning courses to use in your classroom
Children’s Wisconsin offers several engaging e-learning courses for students (grades 4-8) on the topics of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs prevention (ATOD), as well as the skill of analyzing influences. These courses are available at no cost to all Wisconsin schools.
It’s UR Choice for grades 4/5, 6 and 7/8 helps students make smart choices when faced with the pressures of using and abusing alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, and helps them learn how to stay drug-free.
It’s Your Choice – Analyzing Influences 7th Grade, is a skills-based course featuring ATOD content (including vaping) that teaches students about the different types of influences, common types of drugs and their health impacts, and other potential consequences of choosing to use or not use drugs.