If you have kids or work with them, you may have heard a lot about vaping, the tobacco trend that has created an epidemic of nicotine addiction among young people.1

In Colorado, we have made progress in educating youth about the dangers of vaping. The percent of Colorado teens who think vaping is risky rose 23% between 2017 and 2019,2 which is great news!

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As parents and other adults who support youth, we still have work to do.

One in four Colorado youth vape2 and face a potential lifetime of tobacco addiction. And Flavored vape products that appeal to teens pose an ongoing threat. In fact, in 2019, young people list and flavors as one of the top reasons for vaping themselves.

You can make a difference. Over half of young people who currently vape are trying to quit2 and need our support. Use the information on this site to get the facts about vaping and talk about it with the teens in your life.

That’s why we at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have put together resources especially for you. They’re designed to help you understand the ins and outs of vaping and then confidently talk with teens about it.

Vaping 101

The tobacco industry continues to innovate…

and create new products to attract young people and hook a new generation of tobacco consumers.

Stay in the know by learning more about vaping and some of the most common e-cigarette devices on the market.

Flavored Products Hook Teens

Flavored vape products have fueled the youth vaping epidemic, hooking teens and keeping them addicted. Recent laws have limited the sale of some flavored products, but the threat remains.

Dangerously Tasty

  • More than four in five youth who vape use flavored products, which are appealing to teens who wouldn’t use tobacco otherwise.3
  • 70% of youth who vape say they do so “because it comes in flavors I like.”5
  • 62% of Colorado youth who vape use disposable vape devices that are discreet, cheap, and come in various flavors.2
  • Fruit, mint, menthol, and candy flavors are the most popular with middle- and high-school youth.5

2019 data show 63.9% of high schoolers who vape used mint and menthol flavors.8 Because the FDA policy does not prohibit menthol-flavored pod-based vapes, like Juul, youth can still easily access these products.

The Harm of Flavors Themselves

To create flavors, vape manufacturers mix chemicals that are harmful when inhaled, regardless of the presence of nicotine.9 These chemicals can damage:

  • The blood and heart.10
  • The lungs, causing shortness of breath in the near term and potentially disease in the long term.9
  • The body’s immune system.9

Talk to the kids in your life about these risks, and be open to their questions about vaping. Click here for a guide about how to talk to youth about vaping

What Are the Laws for Flavored Products?

Laws have passed in recent years to limit the sale of vape products to young people. However, more work is needed to ban kid-friendly flavors and protect youth.

National: In February 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed a policy prohibiting some flavored, cartridge-based vape products.6 However, this policy does not ban menthol- or tobacco-flavored products or disposable and open vape systems that come in other flavors. That means a wide variety of products are still on the market and accessible to youth.3

State: There is no statewide law limiting the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Local: Some Colorado communities have enacted local restrictions on flavored tobacco products to curb youth use. These policy changes show progress, but more is needed to curb youth use and prevent long-term addiction.

 

Click to explore common flavored vape products that remain on the market and accessible to youth:

 

Disposable vapes

Disposable, single-use devices that are small enough to fit in a pocket.

Unlike Juul, these devices cannot be reused and are thrown away once the vapor runs out. They come in kid-friendly flavors and blends, such as O.M.G. (orange, mango, guava), iced apple mango, and mint. Like Juul, the amount of nicotine in brands like Puff Bar and Mojo can be equal to one whole pack of cigarettes.7

Popular brands: Puff Bar, Mojo, Stig, Next Bar, Hyde

 

Flavored e-juice

Bottles of e-liquid in varying nicotine strengths that are used in refillable vape products. They come in flavors like vanilla, cotton candy, and s’mores. There are 15,000+ flavored e-liquids on the market.8

Popular brands: Naked, Jam Monster, Twist, Mr. Freeze

 

Open systems

Refillable, “open” vape systems that allow users to build and refill vape devices. These products are popular among youth and have no restrictions on flavors.4

Popular brands: Smok, Suorin, Suorin Air
Pod-based vapes

Vape systems that use cartridges or pods of e-liquids. Once the vapor runs out of each pod, it is thrown away and replaced. Menthol and tobacco varieties of these pod- or cartridge-based vapes are still allowed under the recent federal flavor ban.

Popular brand: Juul

Dispel the Myths, Get the Facts

There is a lot of misinformation about vaping. Let’s clear the air and replace the myths with facts.

Myth: Flavored vapes are just harmless water vapor and may not contain nicotine.

Fact: 99 percent of vape products sold in U.S. convenience stores contain nicotine that is highly addictive.11
Plus, the chemicals used to create flavorings can cause damage. Among the most toxic are the chemicals used to create some chocolate and banana flavors.9

Myth: Youth are not buying vape products from retailers.

Fact: Not all retailers adhere to age restrictions, and 10% of teens say they buy vapes online or from retail stores like gas stations.2

Myth: Now that the legal sales age for tobacco products has been raised to 21, middle- and high-school-aged youth are protected.

Fact: Federal and state laws raised the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products from 18 to 21. That’s a step in the right direction. However, many young people can still get products from older peers. In addition, not all retailers enforce age restrictions.

Myth: Vape is less harmful than other tobacco products.

Fact: Vape e-juice contains a combination of chemicals that cause short- and long-term health impacts.
And vaping is especially dangerous for youth because their brains are not yet fully developed. The nicotine in vape can harm a developing brain, create memory problems and increase depression.9 And young people who vape are more than four times more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes a year later.12

How You Can Help

Talk to youth you know.

As a parent or trusted adult, you have an opportunity to educate the young people in your life about vaping so they can make healthy decisions. These videos for parents and askable adults can help you start a conversation.

Support teens in quitting.

My Life, My Quit is available to kids as young as 12 who need support to quit cigarettes, vaping, chew, or other tobacco products. Text-based support and specialists provide free and accessible quit resources for youth.

Get Involved in Local Policies.

Be a part of community solutions to prevent tobacco use. Learn more here to find your next step.

Hear From Other Colorado Adults

Colorado parents and trusted adults are taking a stand when it comes to tobacco.

They’re learning about the issue. They’re having productive conversations with teens. Watch this video series to get ideas and start conversations with the young people in your life.

Resources to Support You

It can be hard to talk to teens about vaping if you don’t know where to find reliable information. Sometimes we learn about vaping from teens themselves, from friends, or from social media. But not all of this is factual.

Learn the facts and get guidance for your conversations:

Free Quit Support for Teens

Smoke-Free Teen, a website from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also provides free quit support for youth, including texting services, a mobile app, trained coaches, and healthy tips to handle stress and social pressure.

Visit Smokefree Teen

In light of the high rates of youth vaping, the Colorado QuitLine’s web, text and phone programs are now available to those as young as 12. New web features and tobacco treatment specialists make quit support free and accessible for youth.

Access the Colorado QuitLine
References
1. Felberbaum, Michael. Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on new steps to address epidemic of youth e-cigarette use. FDA. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm620185.htm.
2. Healthy Kids Colorado Survey 2019. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. https://cdphe.colorado.gov/healthy-kids-colorado-survey-data-tables-and-reports.
3. FDA National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2020. https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/youth-and-tobacco/youth-tobacco-use-results-national-youth-tobacco-survey?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery#1
4. “The Risks of Another Epidemic: Teenage Vaping.” Jane E. Brody. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/23/well/live/teen-vaping.html
5. “A Year of Progress, But Youth E-Cigarette Use Still at Epidemic Levels. Bold Action Needed to Ban All Flavored E-Cigarettes.” Protect Kids: Fight Flavored E-Cigarettes. September 10, 2020. https://fightflavoredecigs.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Anniversary-report-9-10-20.pdf
6. “FDA finalizes enforcement policy on unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes that appeal to children, including fruit and mint.” https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-finalizes-enforcement-policy-unauthorized-flavored-cartridge-based-e-cigarettes-appeal-children
7. “What are Puff Bars?” Truth Initiative. https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/emerging-tobacco-products/what-are-puff-bars
8. “What vape products are still allowed under the new e-cigarette policy?” Truth Initiative. https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/emerging-tobacco-products/what-vape-products-are-still-allowed-under-new-e
9. Miranda P. Ween et al. E-cigarettes and health risks: more to the flavour than just the name, American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology (2020). DOI: 10.1152/ajplung.00370.2020. Retrieved from: https://health.ucsd.edu/news/releases/pages/2020-12-14-the-un-appeal-of-banana-liquid-e-cigarette-flavorings-measurably-injure-lungs.aspx
10. Obada Abou-Assali et al, In Vitro And In Vivo Cardiac Toxicity Of Flavored Electronic Nicotine Delivery. Systems, American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology (2020). DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00283.2020. Retrieved from: https://hscweb3.hsc.usf.edu/blog/2020/12/11/flavors-added-to-vaping-devices-can-damage-the-heart/
11. Sales of Nicotine-Containing Electronic Cigarette Products: United States, 2015. American Journal of Public Health. Retrieved from: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2017.303660?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed&
12. E-cigarette use as a predictor of cigarette smoking: results from a 1-year follow-up of a national sample of 12th-grade students. Retrieved from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2017/01/04/tobaccocontrol-2016-053291?papetoc