Resources for teachers
Vaping: Know The Truth
The Truth Initiative and Kaiser Permanente, in collaboration with the American Heart Association, have created a new youth vaping prevention curriculum to educate students on the dangers of using e-cigarettes. This free, digital experience is designed for students grades 8-12 and is part of the nationally recognized Truth campaign. It is self-led, interactive, and can be completed in about 45 minutes. In addition to preventing e-cigarette use, the curriculum also offers resources to help students who currently use e-cigarettes to quit through Truth’s text message youth quit vaping program called This is Quitting, which is already helping over 220,000 youth and young adults quit. Learn more and access the curriculum.
Stanford Medicine developed a curriculum to provide teachers, parents, and kids with factual information on e-cigarettes. The curriculum covers:
- Basic facts of e-cigarettes and the harms they cause
- The content of e-cigarette aerosols
- Strategies of manufacturers and sellers of e-cigarettes to increase use among adolescents, such as deceptive and creative marketing strategies
- Skills to refuse experimentation and use of e-cigarettes
- Thirdhand smoke
For teachers: What you need to know about e-cigarettes
The following is also available in PDF format.
Vaping is the act of inhaling aerosolized liquid from a device, sometimes called a vape pen or an e-cigarette. The device is filled with vape liquid and when it heats up, the liquid is aerosolized into millions of tiny droplets and then inhaled.
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are battery-powered devices that can deliver nicotine and flavorings to the user in the form of an aerosol. E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes.
Although tobacco use among young people has declined, it is still very popular. Nationally, 3.6 million middle and high school students said they were current tobacco product users in 2017 and more than half used e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S middle and high school students. In King County, twice as many youth are vaping as are smoking cigarettes; in 2016, 10% of 8th, 10th and 12th graders used e-cigarettes compared to 5% who smoked cigarettes.
JUUL is a discrete, pod-based e-cigarette that is shaped like a USB flash drive. JUUL is the top selling e-cigarette brand in the United States. JUUL's nicotine liquid refills are called "pods" and are available in several flavors such as Cool Cucumber, Fruit Medley, Mango, and Mint. All JUUL e-cigarettes have a high level of nicotine. According to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. Other similar pod-based devices may contain as much nicotine as three packs of cigarettes. Due to JUUL's discrete nature (the device plugs into USB ports and does not release a plume of vape similar to some other e-cigarettes) young people are using JUULs in schools, including in classrooms and bathrooms
JUUL e-cigarette plugged into a laptop USB port
The use of any tobacco product is unsafe for young people.
Virtually all e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development, which continues until age 25. The effects of nicotine on the developing brain include reduced impulse control, deficits in attention and cognition, mood disorders, and addiction.
Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to use regular cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kids who use e-cigarettes may trigger a lifelong nicotine addiction and studies have shown that kids who use e-cigarettes are more likely to use other tobacco products in the future such as combustible cigarettes, cigars, hookah, and smokeless tobacco. Preventing young people from vaping can help a whole generation avoid a lifetime of nicotine dependence.
Many young people think vaping is safer than smoking combustible cigarettes, that e-cigarettes don’t contain nicotine, that "pods" are just flavoring, and that e-cigarette aerosol is only water vapor. But, that isn’t the case. E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless. It can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients. E-cigarettes may contain nicotine, volatile organic compounds, ultrafine particles, cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals (such as nickel, tin and lead), and flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease.
It is difficult for consumers to know exactly what e-cigarette products contain. For example, some e-cigarettes marketed as containing zero nicotine have still been found to contain nicotine.
They taste good, and they're easy to hide. Flavored tobacco products have been proven to both appeal to young people and facilitate the start of tobacco product use. Tobacco companies know this, and they market flavored tobacco products to attract young adults. Almost all e-cigarettes used by youth are flavored to taste like menthol, alcohol, candy, fruit, chocolate or other sweets. JUULs and other pod-based devices are also discrete (they fit in the palm of your hand), making them appealing to youth who want to hide them from parents or teachers. They even charge when plugged into a laptop USB port. JUULs have an advantage over other e-cig models because they don't have a distinct odor and don't release plumes of vapor.
As a teacher, it is important to learn about vaping, the types of e-cigarettes, and the risks of all forms of e-cigarette use for young people. With this knowledge, you can look for e-cigarette use in your classroom and school, and help share the facts about e-cigarettes with your students.
You can also work with your colleagues and partners to develop, implement, and enforce tobacco-free school policies.
Be an advocate for young adults in your school and community. Reject youth tobacco prevention programs sponsored by the tobacco industry. These programs have been found to be ineffective for preventing youth tobacco use.
And, don't forget parents. Research from the CDC tells us that parents have the greatest influence over their children when it comes to tobacco use. Share what you know about e-cigarettes with parents. They can help young people learn the facts about e-cigarettes.
Consider customizing this section with district/school specific information and share with your colleagues. Include information on your tobacco policy, and any existing efforts to prevent tobacco use among your students.
- What is a JUUL?, infographic
- E-cigarettes: hooking a new generation on nicotine, infographic
- Health impacts of e-cigarettes, WA State Dept. of Health
- E-cigarettes and vapor products
- Tips from teachers: How to talk to your kids about vaping, Public Health Insider
- A data-based lesson and research activity to teach students about the health risks of e-cigarettes, FDA
- Hot Topic Safer does not equal Safe, TRUTH
- E-cigarettes and vapor products, CDC
- Talk with your teen about e-cigarettes: A tip sheet for parents, Surgeon General
- E-cigarettes shaped like USB flash drives: Information for parents, educators, and health care providers, CDC
- Quit help for teens
- Information on flavored tobacco
- Know the real cost of vaping, The Real Cost
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