E-cigarettes and vape pens have been hailed by many as an alternative to cigarettes.
"These things are prettier than cigarettes”, said Mark Clifton, the owner of No Smoke Shop in St. Louis.
“There's definitely some style going on that's probably a part of it.”
Studies show teens have embraced the e-cig trend. In fact, ‘vape competition' videos like this reach millions.
"What's going on is, they're trying to make as much vapor as they can” explains Clifton. “The person with the thickest vape, wins.”
However, “to win” has brought about a new smoking technique called “dripping” that can have dangerous consequences.
Clifton explains: "’Dripping’ is when you take the juice, put it directly on the coil. Then heat the coil and inhale the vapor. It's a pretty intense cloud. The vapor tastes really good. So the more cloud you get, the more vapor you get.”
The problem is that ‘dripping’ is so intense it can lead to nicotine poisoning.
"Nicotine poisoning is a real thing” says the shop owner. “Symptoms would be headaches, vomiting and it can get even more dangerous than that."
In addition, studies show one in four high school teens who have used e-cigarettes have also tried dripping.
"I have to stop them” he says. “I'm like 'What are you doing? You can hurt yourself like that'. You're getting so much more vapor, that it intensifies the nicotine," said Clifton.
Sixty-four percent of the surveyed teens said they dripped for the thicker smoke, 39% for the better flavor and 28% for the stronger throat hit or sensation
Manipulating an e-cig device coil to be able to drip can also be very dangerous.
"The battery is going to spew out chemicals that are within the battery and it heats up pretty violently. And they call it an explosion," said Clifton.
According to the CDC, E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used form of tobacco by youth in the U.S.
The CDC released the following specific actions that parents and other adults can take to reduce young people's exposure to e-cigarettes:
- Restrict E-cigarette Use Around Young People. Don't let anyone use e-cigarettes or other tobacco products around young people. Not only are youth watching the behaviors of others as an example, but they're also at risk of exposure to nicotine and other chemicals that can be harmful to their health.
- Visit Tobacco-Free Locations. Avoid restaurants and other locations that allow use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
- Ensure School is Tobacco-Free. Check with your school administration to ensure your child's school, college, or university is completely tobacco-free, including being free of e-cigarettes.
- Make Your Home Tobacco-Free. Make your home and vehicles tobacco-free by not allowing use of any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, by family members, friends, and guests. This is an important step to fully protect your children from exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke and secondhand aerosol from e-cigarettes.
- Be an Example. Be an example to youth by living tobacco-free. Even if you're quitting tobacco, share the reasons why you want to be tobacco-free and ask for support in your journey.