One in four Louisiana middle schoolers is vaping. By the time those students reach high school, that number is one in three. Ochsner Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist Travis Costanza recently shared these statistics with sixth, seventh and eighth grade students. Costanza regularly speaks with students about the dangers of vaping, and his recent visit to Episcopal provided students the opportunity to learn more about common myths surrounding the practice.
1. Vaping is a safer alternative to cigarette smoking. - False
Costanza says while some people think of vaping as a safer smoking option or even a way to begin kicking the habit, vaping is not safer. In fact, he advises patients in the cessation program not to transition to vaping devices as a way to stop smoking. He points out that the ingredients in vaping liquids are harmful. “There’s a ton of unknown juices,” he says. “It’s like a science experiment in your hand.” In addition, Costanza advised students that while many people think that vaping liquid does not contain nicotine, there are high levels of the chemical present. “If you vape, you’re putting nicotine in your body,” he says. He says vaping allows for a deeper intake of nicotine because the chemicals are so much smoother on the throat and lungs.
2. Vaping is targeted at adults. - False
Costanza told students that teenagers have always been the target population for cigarette manufacturers, and the same is true for vaping companies. He says the companies, which are frequently owned by cigarette makers, use fonts, colors and flavors similar to popular candy, making the products eye-catching and giving the appearance that they are safe. Costanza says the developing brains of adolescents make them susceptible to experimenting with substances and becoming addicted, and once that happens it can be difficult for them to stop.
3. Girls are more likely to vape than boys. - True
Costanza asked the audience which gender vapes more, and many students speculated that boys are more likely to vape. However, Costanza says it is actually the girls. He pointed out that vaping devices are more discreet than traditional cigarettes making them easier to conceal. This ability to be discreet may lead some teens to try vaping.
Several students asked why vaping devices are allowed if they are known to be dangerous. “You have a chance to say no,” Costanza replied. He advised students that it is up to them to educate themselves and say no to harmful substances.
To learn more about vaping, check out the links below.