● Youth may be using stealth e-cigarette products disguised as backpacks, smartwatches, sweatshirts, fidget spinners, or gaming devices.
● Be on the lookout for disposable e-cigarettes, which have become more popular among youth.
● Offer free quit resources to a teen who seems to be struggling with addiction.
Learn to Recognize Stealth E-Cigarette Products
You probably know that an e-cigarette (also called a vape) is a battery-powered device that heats a liquid nicotine mixture, often including flavors, into an aerosol that the user inhales. Several of the e-cigarettes most popular with youth resemble USB flash drives and can be relatively odorless. But did you know that teens may also be using stealth e-cigarette products disguised as backpacks, smartwatches, sweatshirts, fidget spinners, or hand-held gaming devices?
For example, look at the sweatshirt and backpack below. Both these products have a stealth pocket for the e-cigarette system to deliver aerosol discreetly through a hose that’s woven through the fabric. These products make it easier for teens to vape without raising the attention of parents, teachers, or other adults.
Some kids are buying e-cigarettes online and having them delivered without their parent’s knowledge or consent. FDA has taken action to remove these products from the marketplace but know that some e-cigarette products can hide in plain sight.
Be on the Lookout for Disposable E-Cigarettes
Parents and teachers might also want to be aware that disposable e-cigarettes are becoming more popular with youth. A disposable e-cigarette is designed for a single use. Some of these disposable products cost as little as a few dollars each, making them more affordable to teens. A disposable e-cigarette can’t be recharged or refilled; a teen does not have to charge it or necessarily hide it in the house. Teens can obtain, use, and throw away these products. In addition, many disposable e-cigarettes come in flavors that appeal to youth.
While the most commonly used products among youth are still e-cigarettes with pre-filled pods or cartridges that contain e-liquid mixtures, in the latest National Youth Tobacco Survey results we have seen a concerning increase in youth use of disposables. Of the youth who currently use e-cigarettes, 26.5 percent of high schoolers and 15.2 percent of middle schoolers use disposables. Some common disposable e-cigarettes resemble USB sticks and may appear in bright colors.
FDA has warned several manufacturers, including the makers of the popular Puff Bar disposable e-cigarette, to remove their illegal products from the U.S. market. FDA will continue to take action against any e-cigarette product that targets youth, including flavored disposable e-cigarettes and other e-cigarettes that do not have FDA authorization to be sold. We continue to work hard to protect the health and safety of young people.
Free Educational and Quit Resources for Youth
Our top priority is, and must be, the safety and well-being of youth. You can offer a great deal of help by providing support and giving a teen access to free quit resources. Teens are interested in learning facts about e-cigarettes and you may want to share these videos and interactive resources designed to educate middle and high school students. In addition, the American Lung Association has developed a free educational program that schools can use as an alternative to disciplining children who have been caught using e-cigarettes. Parents should let their school administrators know about this free resource.
According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, of high schoolers who currently use e-cigarettes, 39 percent use them 20 or more days per month and 23 percent use them daily. These disturbingly high rates of frequent and daily e-cigarette use suggest strong dependence on nicotine. However, more teens are going public with their decision to quit vaping, so this is a perfect time to have a conversation about quitting with a teen. Nicotine addiction is a reality for many youth, but these resources and your support can help break the addiction.
—Kathy Crosby is the Director of Communications at the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. Learn more at www.fda.gov.
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