Vaping and Teenagers: The Signs and Shapes of the Vapes

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Vaping and Teenagers: The Signs and Shapes of the Vapes

Public health experts believe you should know if your teenager is vaping, and stop them.

STATE WIDE--One person has died in Indiana because of vaping, says the CDC. Six people have died across the country. You should know how to tell if your teenager or young adult is vaping and have a conversation with them about stopping, said University of Indianapolis Public Health Prof. Dr. Carla Brown.

"I have seen them look like little USB thumb drives, but I've also seen them look like whisteles that a referee might use. I've also seen them look like pens," said Brown.

She said there are over 7,000 different vaping devices available.

"We have to be dilligent as public health professionals, as parents, as gatekeepers for our youth," she said. Brown said the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate e-cigarettes or vaping products, so the safety of the devices and the chemicals used to vape, have not been effectively researched.

"We don't have the volume of data at this time that we do for other types of nicotine delivery systems."

But, she noted, that nicotine is not the only substance available for vaping. The three types also include THC (the active ingredient in marijuana), and CBD oil, a derivative of cannabis, which can only get you high in very large amounts. Nicotine and CBD vape products are legal in Indiana. THC is not.

"It's very hard to create rules, policies and regulations because the proliferation of these products has really taken off in recent years," she said.

For now, the CDC is asking people to avoid vaping, not knowing for sure what was in the vape cartidges that have made hundreds of people sick in over 30 states, including Indiana, where at least 30 people have gotten sick, according to the Indiana State Dept. of Health.

Because people are getting sick, and because people under 18 are not allowed to have a vaping device, Brown said parents need to look for signs that their kids may be vaping.

"If your teen or your young adult is recently doing a lot of coughing, that's a sign to look for. If they are wheezing or if they seem to have some sort of bronchial issue," she said. 

Brown said the human brain isn't fully formed until after age 21, and so the younger someone is when they begin using a substance, the more problematic the outcome.

PHOTO: Mauro Grigollo/Thinkstock

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