The Specialist

Vaping among children and teens can become a public health crisis

Vaping is a very dangerous trend among children and teens in The Bahamas today. A recent conversation with a diverse group of young adults confirmed my suspicions. My concern is that parents of underage children seemed to be unaware of this unnoticed pop culture.

Vaping is the inhaling of a vapor created by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette). It is essentially steam that comes from hot nicotine liquid. E-cigarettes, vape pens and JUULs are all different devices for heating the liquid or vape juice. This liquid can also contain marijuana or oil. The pre-filled e-cigarettes (called “Puff Bars”) are designed for one-time use.

Research shows that vaping has many medical risks and side effects. Despite the fact that there are some restrictions on the sale and advertising of e-cigarettes to young people, many teenagers still use them. Teens have been led to believe that vapes are much less harmful than cigarettes.

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive and toxic to the body. Nicotine exposure can also harm children and the young adult brain development. You don’t have to vape every day to get addicted. Getting addicted to nicotine can make it harder for teenagers to focus and concentrate. Chronic usage causes anxiety, depression and memory loss. E-cigarettes also contain chemicals that can cause lung damage and cancer. Additionally, vaping can make teenagers more likely to start smoking regular cigarettes or marijuana.

Vaping also presents severe health effects to the oral cavity.

E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. Most have a battery, a heating element and a container to hold a liquid. Some of their names are “e-cigs”, “e-hookahs”, “mods”, “vape pens”, “vapes”, “tank systems” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)”.

Unlike regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not have a strong smell. As a result, it’s much easier for kids to be secretive about their usage. The child-friendly packaging and flavors of various vape brands make vaping look fun, so even kids who wouldn’t try cigarettes are tempted. Teens often think that vaping isn’t dangerous. What makes matters worse is it’s easy for underage kids to buy vaping devices online.

If you’re worried your child may be vaping, start with a general conversation. Try asking if other kids at their school vape and what they think about it. Find out what they already know, so you can start helping them understand the risks. This usually works better than making unrealistic demands or screaming at them.

If your child is addicted to vaping, make sure to seek care from a known addiction specialist. Addiction to nicotine from vaping can be even more serious than addiction to regular cigarettes.

The e-cigarette fad has the potential to create a generation of young people hooked on nicotine. Parents should learn about vaping and speak to their children about the health risks.

• Dr. Kendal V.O. Major is the founder and CEO of the Center for Specialized Dentistry, which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in New Providence and Grand Bahama. He is the first Bahamian specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He is also a certified fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, New Providence. He can be contacted at (242) 325-5165 or For further information visit 

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