The Unseen Dangers of Tobacco and Nicotine
There are many obvious dangers associated with smoking, vaping and using smokeless tobacco. But even with all of these obvious risks staring teens in the face, Big Tobacco has pulled the wool over our kids’ eyes.
We know that cigarette smoking is the source of a long list of chronic diseases, including COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer. Research has also made it clear that smokeless tobacco and vaping can be damaging. According to a 2016 Report from the Surgeon General, the vapor produced by vaping and e-cigarette devices is NOT water vapor — it is a toxic aerosol that contains cancer-causing substances.
Inhaling secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes can cause respiratory irritations and increases the risk for asthma, among other adverse health effects.
Companies are glamorizing these addictive products, and in doing so, are covering up hidden dangers putting our teens at risk. Research has shown that the nicotine found in cigarettes and vapes, the very chemical our kids believe helps them relax, actually creates more stress and sends them deeper into anxiety. Simply put, tobacco and vaping companies are preying on our children’s minds in the season of life when they are most vulnerable.
Our voice of truth has to be louder than the lies they are being fed every day.
It Starts with Honest Conversations
Our kids are being lied to. They are being told through deceptive marketing that relief from their stress and anxiety is only a puff away. We know differently, and it is up to us to have tough conversations with them about their mental health and coping skills.
The teen years are filled with stress, anxiety and depression by default. Our kids’ bodies are also changing, and their brains are forming habits and patterns that will stay with them for a lifetime. Vaping and tobacco companies know this, so they are marketing accordingly.
Our Kids’ Mental Health Matters
The past two years have been hard on everyone. The world was forced to rethink how we work, how we play, how we worship and how we maintain relationships. Our kids have felt the impact in deep, profound ways. How are they dealing with this stress and anxiety? Research tells us that they are smoking and vaping. According to an August 2021 survey by the Truth Initiative:
- 4 out of 5 of youth who had used e-cigarettes started vaping to deal with stress, anxiety or depression.
- 1 out of 2 youth vapers use e-cigarettes to manage stress or anxiety.
- In a separate study, two of the most common perceived advantages of vaping were “relaxation and stress relief.”
Vaping companies have convinced our kids that smoking is a stress reliever, and as a result, they are experiencing the harmful side effects of nicotine at an alarming rate. They run to nicotine to calm their anxiety, but in reality, they’re opening the door to a chemical that will only worsen the struggle. Research reveals numerous connections exist between nicotine and our kids’ mental health:
- Nicotine can worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- E-cigarette use is linked to greater depressive symptoms like sadness and crying spells.
- E-cigarette users have double the odds of a depression diagnosis compared with those who have never vaped.
- Vaping nearly doubles the risk of ADHD symptoms, including serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
These destructive habits that our kids are forming are a clear cry for help. Our children are looking for anything that can fill the void in their lives, and Big Tobacco has sneakily positioned itself as the answer. However, we know the truth: our teens are turning to nicotine and tobacco to relieve stress — but the opposite is happening.
For help with talking to your kids about smoking, check out our Talk To Your Kids resources.