Vaping Warning Signs

Some e-cigarettes, like JUUL, have a small, sleek design, making them easy to conceal from parents and teachers. For this reason, parents may find it difficult to know whether their child is vaping. If you suspect your child is using e-cigarettes, it is understandable to worry. However, some telltale signs may help you determine whether your child is at risk of a vaping addiction, injury, or illness.

How to Detect Vaping Warning Signs

If you suspect your child is using e-cigarettes, it is important to prepare and educate yourself about the serious dangers and warning signs of vaping.

Knowing the signs of vaping — like sweet or fruity scents and vaping slang — can take the guesswork out of your suspicions.

Ultimately, knowing the real dangers associated with vaping helps you accurately portray and communicate the risks to your child.

What Does a Vape Look Like?

JUUL e-cigarette device and refill podsThe mechanics of vaping are similar across most devices. A liquid, also called “e-liquid” or “e-juice,” is poured into an electric device that activates a heating coil when someone inhales. This converts the liquid into an aerosol that can be inhaled by the user.

Hundreds of devices use this process, however, some of the more common vaping products resemble pens, USB drives, and cell phones. These harmless-looking devices make them easy to conceal from parents and teachers.

The packaging for vaping liquids is often bright and colorful, mimicking the appearance of candy packaging. This is particularly dangerous for e-liquids with nicotine because young children may confuse them with ordinary candy instead of potentially deadly substances.

What Are the Warning Signs of Vaping?

Parents can look for physical and behavioral signs that their child is vaping.

Warning signs of vaping may include: 

  • Strange odors: One of the appeals of vaping is the “fun” flavors like mint, bubblegum, and chocolate. While certainly less pungent than cigarette smoke, the trace odors of vaping are still noticeable.
  • Unknown packages: While minors are not allowed to purchase e-cigarettes, there are plenty of ways that young people can work around this. Online sales of vaping devices are much harder to control, and children can take advantage of this loophole.
  • Vaping equipment and paraphernalia: The variety of devices and their resemblance to harmless items like flash drives make them much easier to conceal.
  • Increased thirst and nose bleeds: Some e-liquids contain chemicals that dry out the mouth and nasal passages. This can heighten thirst and prompt more frequent nose bleeds.
  • Vaping lingo: Vaping has developed its own culture, with popular videos on YouTube and Twitter showing vape cloud tricks and slang. Keep an ear out for overheard conversations with coded phrases like “atty” for the device’s atomizer and “sauce” in place of e-liquid or e-juice.
  • Decreased caffeine use: Caffeine sensitivity is one side effect of vaping. If your child decreases caffeine consumption (e.g., energy drinks), it may result from vaping.
  • Bloodshot eyes: Bloodshot eyes are one of the physical side effects of vaping.
  • Irritability: If your child uses a vaping device with nicotine, they may act moody or irritable if they are experiencing nicotine withdrawal.

How to Address Vaping Warning Signs

It is important to talk to your child if you suspect they are using e-cigarettes. The health risks and potential long-term damage are too great to ignore.

It is possible, however, to do so in a non-judgmental, non-threatening way. Anticipating your child’s questions and preparing educated answers is a great start.

Common questions your child may have about vaping include: 

Isn’t vaping safer than cigarettes?

Yes — technically. However, vaping is still harmful due to the toxic substances (like nicotine) in vaping liquids and the risk of a battery explosion. This is particularly the case for developing young brains especially susceptible to nicotine addiction.

A good way to think about the safety difference is, “driving 90 mph on the freeway with a seatbelt is safer than driving without one, but both are dangerous.”

What’s the harm in flavorings?

There is some commonality between the artificial flavorings used in food and those added to e-liquids. The difference is in how they’re consumed.

Chemicals in the stomach are digested, while inhaled chemicals — like the butter-flavoring diacetyl — have been linked to irreversible lung damage.

If it isn’t safe, why does everyone do it?

The majority of high school students do not vape. Roughly 80% of high school students do not use vaping products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How do I turn down someone who asks me to vape?

Roleplaying is a great way to practice these scenarios.

Acting out what a child will say if someone offers them a chance to vape makes the unknown more tangible. Take turns as both the one offering and the one refusing. Encourage direct eye contact and strong posture to make the message more powerful.

An escape route is also helpful. Pick a code word like “now” or even a simple letter that your child can text you if they need to get out of an uncomfortable situation. This is your cue to text your child with a fake emergency that gives them an out.

I’m not doing it that often, so what’s the harm?

Explain that each time your child experiments with vaping, they are normalizing the behavior in their mind. This makes it easier each time to pick up the habit, which can lead to regular use or using even more dangerous substances like tobacco cigarettes.

Choose open-ended questions like “What keeps you from vaping more often?” to help them verbalize their choices.

Get Help After a Vaping Illness or Injury

Governmental agencies, lawmakers, scientists, and doctors agree: Vaping is dangerous.

From the chemicals in e-liquids to the addictive nature of nicotine to the threat of defective battery explosions, vaping introduces preventable health risks into the lives of children and teens.

Hold vaping companies accountable for the harm they have caused. If your child used a vaping device and has become addicted, sick, or injured, you may have legal options.

To find out more, start a free case review now.

Author:Vape Danger Editorial Team
Vape Danger Editorial Team

Vape Danger helps people understand the dangers of vape and e-cigarette products. Vaping devices are marketed as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. However, vape pens and other devices may cause serious injuries and illnesses. The Vape Danger editorial team provides the latest studies and data to help readers make informed health and legal choices.

Last modified: January 29, 2023