E-Cigarettes and Vaping

Across the nation, use of electronic cigarettes and other vaping products has increased considerably among both youth and young adults in recent years. There’s been a lot of discussion about them and in the past several years, many myths, safety concerns and questions have come up. Read our one-page fact sheet here

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that contains a mixture which typically contains nicotine (though not always), flavorings and other chemicals. The device heats this mixture, called e-juice or e-liquid, producing an aerosol that is inhaled. The act of using an electronic cigarette is calling "vaping." E-cigarettes are also called e-cigs, vapes, e-hookahs, e-pipes, vape pens, hookah pens, JUULs (the most popular brand of e-cigs), or personal vaporizers.

Parent Resources 
We encourage parents to discuss the dangers of e-cigarettes with their children. Resources are available from the Surgeon General’s office, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Physician Advocacy Network. The Minnesota Department of Health put together a comprehensive toolkit with information, resources and curricula to help schools, parents/caregivers and other community members support kids to make healthy decisions.

What Stillwater Schools are doing about Electronic Cigarettes
We include information about e-cigarettes in a review with our secondary students of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors at the start of the school year.

Other steps we take to combat the use of e-cigarettes:

  • Education in health classes

  • Teachers are on high alert for e-cigarette products such as JUULs

  • Discipline is combined with a health component – students are assigned to do research on electronic cigarettes

  • Communication with families and staff

  • Enforcing our policy and the law

School Policy and Laws
In the state of Minnesota, it is illegal for individuals under the age of 18 to purchase, possess, use, sell or distribute electronic cigarettes. The sale and distribution of e-cigs is prohibited to those under the age of 18. For more information on the law and e-cigarettes, click HERE. It is also a violation of State high school league rules. Students bringing these or other illegal substances to school will:

  • Be referred to law enforcement for possible charges

  • Be subject to school consequences, including but not limited to in-school suspension, suspension and expulsion

  • Have documentation in their permanent school record of their action

Health Impacts
All the available research indicates that the use of electronic cigarettes can pose serious health risks both short and long term. Click HERE to view a webinar released May 22, 2018. Short-term risks include throat, lung and even eye irritation. Existing research demonstrates that long-term effects include “popcorn lung” (a chronic lung infection), high blood pressure, heart problems, increased risk of addiction to other substances and nicotine addiction.

Because e-cigarettes are poorly regulated, we do not know what chemicals are actually in the liquid (commonly called e-juice or e-liquid) that users vape. Studies have shown there to be dozens of potential harmful chemicals in the e-juice such as tin, nickel, acetone and arsenic. There is a misconception that what’s produced from using an e-cigarette is vapor when it’s actually aerosol, a mixture of liquid particles suspended in gas that can contain many chemicals and it does not evaporate. Anytime we expose our body to any type of chemical we are at risk for health consequences.   

We also know that nicotine is addictive and is particularly harmful to the developing adolescent brain. Every single JUUL, the most popular brand of e-cigarette, contains nicotine. Teens are incredibly capable of learning, whether it’s healthy or unhealthy. Thus, when teens use they are priming their bodies for addiction to nicotine and inhalation behavior. In fact, 95% of adult smokers started before they were 18. Furthermore, adolescents who vape are four times more likely to start using cigarettes and five times more likely to use cigarettes in tandem with electronic cigarettes.

Some teens claim that e-cigarettes are healthier than cigarettes. We cannot definitely say if one drug is healthier than another because substances react in different ways in different people.

The bottom line is that use of electronic cigarettes poses health risks. Vaping can be summarized in three key messages:

  • It’s not healthy

  • It’s not safe

  • It’s not necessary

Additional Resources