Vaping and Teens: Protect Youth Lung Health in COVID-19

By Laurie Rubiner
Mom talking to teen about vaping and smoking

With over five million kids using e-cigarettes, and millions of kids who still smoke, our youth are facing a serious threat for more severe symptoms of COVID-19 and a lifetime of addiction. The coronavirus attacks the lungs, and health experts warn that behaviors that weaken the lungs—including smoking and vaping—put our youth at greater risk for the virus.

More kids are smoking and vaping than you think. Over one in four high school students and one in 10 middle schoolers use e-cigarettes, which means that even if your child is not using e-cigarettes, they almost certainly have friends who are.

If you’re wondering why so many middle and high school students use e-cigarettes, kid-friendly flavors and marketing play a big role. E-cigarettes are sold in a huge variety of appealing flavors, from gummy bear and banana ice to mango and mint—and many come in stealthy shapes and sizes that don’t look anything like tobacco products, like pens, flash drives and even watches.

Many e-cigarettes also deliver massive doses of nicotine, so many youth users are likely struggling to cope with their addiction even while facing stay-at-home orders.

Even as health experts warn that smoking and vaping can worsen the effects of the coronavirus, Big Tobacco and vape shops have the audacity to use the pandemic to market their lung-harming, kid-addicting products. Some vape shops went so far as to offer free giveaways of personal protective equipment like masks.

It’s important you talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking and vaping. With social distancing in full effect, many families are spending more time together than ever. It’s an ideal time to start an open dialogue with your kids about e-cigarettes, and if your child is one of the five million who use e-cigarettes, help your child quit.

Educate yourself on these products and leverage your voice to protect our kids and their health.

Laurie Rubiner is the Executive Vice President for U.S. Programs at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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