Signs that Your Teen is Vaping

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Is my teen vaping?

Teen vaping is increasing. Knowing the facts on vaping can help stop a problem before it starts. We put together this in-depth blog post to help you understand more about teens who vape. 

Quick Links
How many teens are vaping?
Who is vaping?
Why do teens vape?
Where can teens get vape?
Is all vaping the same?
Signs that your child is vaping
How to talk to your teenager about vaping
How to help my child quit vaping
What's next?

Parents and lawmakers are demanding action. The cause? An epidemic of teens starting to use e-cigarettes and other vape devices.

The outcry for action also causes pressure on makers of e cigarette devices, eliquid manufacturers, and vape shops. Pressure on them to do more to keep vape out of the hands of teens. Despite studies showing that they may not be fully to blame. As teenagers are getting vape juice, e cigarettes, or tobacco from other sources.

As leaders in our industry, we share the responsibility to help prevent teen vaping. And offer these tips to help deter, identify, and support a parent who is hoping to keep their child from vaping.

How many teens are vaping?

The teen vaping statistics are in. As a parent of a teen, the data as reported by the Youth Tobacco Survey conducted by the FDA could be alarming.

The survey collected data on the usage of the various types of tobacco. Including cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, herbal cigarettes,bidis and cloves. The  data gathered from the survey reported findings from these products. and how often they were being used among middle and high school students.

As a result of these studies, came the backlash towards vaping. Rightfully so, as the reported data from the tobacco survey revealed a sharp rise in the use of electronic cigarettes.

Some of their findings included the following increases over the previous year (2017):

  • An estimated increase of 1.5 million students using e-cigarettes.

  • In High School students alone, a reported 78% percent increase. With also a rise in frequency of usage with the vape flavors being the main appeal to this age group.

  • Middle school use increased by 48% percent over the previous year. With about 3.3% of middle school students using e-cigarettes in 2017, and 4.9% of students reported using vape in 2018.

  • 68% of the youth vaping is using flavored versions of e-cigarettes. Which is a 4% increase in the usage over the previous year.

teen vaping statistics 2018 versus 2017


While the use of tobacco products in middle school is alarming in itself. The survey saw the biggest increases in use among high school students. With nearly triple the percentage of use difference between the two groups.

Overall, in 2018, an estimated 5 million youth use one of the tobacco products listed in the survey. With almost half of the youths who use tobacco products, using two or more versions of the products.

What was the most used tobacco product in this survey?


An estimated 72% of the youth were using vaping or electronic cigarettes. Making it the most common product affecting the rise in tobacco use.

The fact that this has erased the efforts on the previous declines is disheartening.  Especially for those who have been fighting the usage of any tobacco-related products.

Who is vaping?

High school students are by far a larger group of vape users over middle school students.

According to a study by the CDC. Vaping with electronic cigarettes is used most by non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics and non-Hispanic other race.

But finding out exactly who is vaping can be difficult.

Many types of vaporizers can appear like common computer accessories. Such as flash drives, or USB sticks. Which makes them easier to conceal and harder to identify.

Check out our page on different types of vape devices to see what they may look like.

teen vaping how to identify a vape device

Depending on what vaping device your child is illegally using. The aerosol emitted may be very discreet. Making it harder to track, or see when vaping is being used. Which posed a problem for classrooms as teachers are sometimes not able to tell if a teen is vaping in class.

Another issue in detecting kids vaping at school. Is smoke detectors do not pick up the aerosol emitted from electronic cigarettes. Making it harder to know when kids are vaping, or where.

Why do teens vape?

Social media has come into the spotlight of the public eye. With finger pointing to the glorification of vaping and influencers.  But, no solid evidence or surveys show to prove that is the cause.

Yet, a study released in 2013 revealed something shocking. That approximately 30,000 videos on youtube showed people vaping.

Also recently blamed. Was the use of tobacco-related products in movies, television, and other video media. With the CDC even suggesting that any movies or shows in the future. Be given an R rating for its use of smoking or vaping on camera.

But as reported in a 2016 by the National Youth Tobacco Survey put together by the CDC. Different factors were selected by teens. These reasons listed below were more dominant in why teens vape.

When the question "why did you start vaping?" was asked to students who vape. Their reasons were the following:

  • Influenced by a friend or family member who vapes.

  • Intrigued by the availability of vape flavors. With some of the vape juice flavors giving a sensation of fun and excitement.

  • Using vape as an alternative to smoking cigarettes. Believing that e cigarettes had no harmful effects.

Other factors did come up in the study as well. Such as; the reported ease of getting vape or e-cigarettes over other tobacco products.

Cost of vaping was also a factor. As children and teenagers are sometimes working with a limited budget. The cost of buying vape products is usually less. Especially cheap vape products. Or used vape pens. Much cheaper than the cost of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

When asked "When did you start vaping and why do you still vape?" to students who vape on a regular basis. Their reason for when and why they continue was also reported:

  • A girlfriend or boyfriend who vapes got them into it.

  • Vaping with friends to pass the time when hanging out.

  • Vaping to relieve stress from school.

As you can see from these responses from teens who are currently vaping. Being influenced by friends and family was a common answer to how they started vaping.

While first time vaping may be the root of the teen epidemic. How teens get vape or e cigs has also come under the spotlight.

But how exactly are teens getting their hands on vape?

Is all vaping the same?

Yes and no.

Despite what you see in the news headlines on vaping health risks, not all vape is the same.

Many of the headlines seen in with exploding vape pens or teens being sent to the emergency room are due to poor quality products. Or products that have been bought illegally. Like street-bought THC cartridges.

As an example...

A recent headline stated a man had suffered lung damage from vaping and is now in a coma. While the headline may seem all vaping is bad. The truth is he was vaping THC from a vape cartridge he bought on the street.

So while it may be labeled vaping. Buying from a vape pod on the street versus products from a trusted manufacturer is totally different.

Regardless of the available data on vaping health effects. If you or your child are not smoking tobacco or vaping, don't start.

Where can teens get vape?

With e-cigarettes now being the most used tobacco product. The question of "how are teens getting vape?" should be considered.

Plenty of pressure has been put on vape shops and liquor stores. With some of them being closed for not following strict guidelines. And some making news headlines for selling vape to minors.

Based on a study conducted in 2016 on the online e-liquid industry. Tests on how online sales to minors were conducted. The results were dismal. Out of 120 internet vendors who were selling vape products online. Only 4 of them were able to stop teens from making illegal purchases on their site.

Clearly more has to be done.

But with the boom of eCommerce sites like Amazon and eBay. And how easy it is to sell on these platforms, the methods of purchasing anything is a mouse click away.


One of the biggest players in online shopping, Amazon. Is useful for purchasing almost anything. But also turns out to be a way for teens to get vape. Buying vape on Amazon is as simple as doing a quick search for "vape" and adding to your cart.

Selling tobacco or vape on Amazon is not allowed per Amazon guidelines. Additionally, products such as nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays are not permitted. Hats, t-shirts with cigarette or tobacco brands are not permitted as well.

But some Amazon sellers still manage to find a way to sell vape on their platform.

vape products sold on amazon

Looking at the vaping products with one-star reviews on Amazon. And the shady accounts selling vape pens or electronic cigarettes.  We can only assume that these products are terrible and low quality.

Which is another problem. As most of the headlines seen in the news are exploding vapes due to low-quality products. And not from high-quality vape manufacturers. Who has invested heavily in testing their product for vaping.

Yet, with over 10,000 results for vape, a teen can find and be able to have the vape device shipped to your house. If you suspect your teen vape, keep an eye out on their Amazon account. It may help prevent them from vaping.

And judging by the poor reviews on the accounts selling the vape devices. Preventing your child from getting their hands on a device from these illegal sources, can potentially prevent an accident waiting to happen.


Another big player in the world of eCommerce.  Unlike Amazon, is a bit easier for your teen to buy vape. That is if they have an account of their own and it is not being monitored.

Because of the selling platform. Which does not allow anyone under 18 to buy or sell on eBay legally, consumers are not required to verify their age. When attempting to buy tobacco or vape products no age checks are in place once you have an account created.

vape products on ebay

eBay's policy to sell vape on its platform is not allowed. It is difficult to determine the enforcement of the policies if enforced at all. A search we recently conducted on their site for "vape mods" and "vape device". Still generated results, many of them with free shipping.

Buying vape on eBay has been closely looked at by groups trying to prevent teenage vaping. But the problem does not only rest on them. With all sources of making purchases online, educating your child on vaping is key. As well as monitoring their online purchases if you suspect them of vaping may be required.

AliExpress / Overseas eCommerce Sites

Although the name may not sound familiar to you, AliExpress is a huge player in the eCommerce space. AliExpress, much like Alibaba, is a platform to buy almost anything your heart desires.  Direct from China.

Founded in 2010. AliExpress has been gaining notoriety. As it offers many of the items you can find on Amazon, but usually at a much lower cost. But unlike Alibaba, AliExpress allows anyone in the world to buy small quantities. Unlike the bulk only option with Alibaba.

While many of the manufacturers or trading companies are legitimate. There are an equal amount of resellers that are not.

Conducting a recent online search for "vape" on AliExpress generated 49,000 results. Again like Amazon and eBay, many of the sellers offering free shipping on vape products. Although usually with longer shipping time.

vape products for sale on aliexpress

Vape and e-cigarettes are not currently regulated in China. And many of the vape suppliers' information is unknown. Vape products made in China are being made in little workshops. To giant manufacturing warehouses funded by startups.

Most of the world's products are being made in China. Vaping products made in China being one of them. And the concern over the regulations, or lack of them, has attracted attention. From the public and manufacturers of vape products in the US alike.

With no oversight on how the products are made or handled. Allowing them to be associated with the vape industry is damaging.

As an example. Media headlines on exploding vape pens and e cigarettes can appear all of them will one day explode. But when some of the information is further disclosed in these occurrences. The cause comes back to counterfeit vape batteries or cheap vape devices made from low-quality Chinese manufacturers.

Craigslist / Offerup / Social Marketplaces

In this social media world came social marketplaces. Much like a digital version of the Pennysaver, recycler or local newspaper classifieds. These platforms provide an opportunity for anyone to sell. To post their used goods online for sale.

dont buy illegal vape devices for sale online

Controlling vape sales on these third-party platforms is difficult. As most transactions are being done in person, bypassing the age verification makes it easier to make illegal purchases. Crucial age verification that most online vape sellers now have in place.

Another thing these sites can do to lure teens buying vape is the discounted cost.

Being that these platforms sell used vape products or old vape pens that have been sitting in a box for months. Chances are that youth can get things like electronic cigarettes, or vape mods at a low price. Much lower than the original retail cost. This can be appealing to a teen who has no very little money to spare.

These platforms can often be the harder ones to keep an eye on as no credit card or verification is being needed. Often a created account is not needed to view or contact the seller of what is being sold on the sites.

Buying from third-party sites like these can be a virtual yard sale. Sorting through page after page of junk. Which also poses another risk. As no history of the device or warranty, is being offered. Or help if damaged. Vape manufacturer technical support is available usually only to new vape devices.

The used vape product's history is unknown. And if the vaping device has any issues they may be being hidden. The seller who is looking to unload the product onto someone else to make a profit may not mention it.

Family / Friends / Strangers

Many teens state that they are getting their products to vape from family members or friends.

As a preventative measure. Talking with a family member who is using vape or tobacco about their use around your child can help. Making sure they do not leave their e cigarette on the table or left in plain sight can stop a problem before it starts.

Many youths have said that they obtained vape by having someone older buy it for them. Know who your child is hanging around with.  And knowing who their friends older siblings are can be useful.

In America, it is illegal to sell vapes, vape juice or any tobacco products to minors. But someone looking to make a quick buck may not care.  Especially if they are approaching someone to buy a vape at a gas station for them.

Signs that your child is vaping

Have a conversation with your teenager. Explain the health effects of vaping on the adolescent brain. Although the subject matter of vaping may not seem to be of importance to them. Especially if they are seeing their friends, athletes, and even some celebrities vaping.

Regardless of the conversation to prevent vaping from happening with your teen. They may start vaping anyways.

Here are some signs that your teen may be vaping:

  • Developing an increase in how secretive they are. And not open to talking about vaping, or avoids any discussions on vape use.

  • Irritability can be due to the use of nicotine and it's addictive qualities. Nicotine is an addictive chemical. The lack of it once it has someone hooked can cause them to feel annoyed and unpleasant. Be on the lookout for nicotine withdrawal.

  • Spending more money than usual or not being able to prove where the money was being spent. Having some sort of insight into where your teens' money is going may be beneficial. Especially in this situation of trying to find out if they are vaping.

  • Disappearing from the home for short periods. Going back to the addictive qualities of nicotine. Your teen may be sneaking out to get a quick fix of the nicotine found in vape and then returning home.

  • Thirstier more than usual. Although vaping affects everyone in a different way. If your teen is vaping you may notice an increase in how thirsty they are. Consuming more liquids to hydrate their mouth and throat can be an indicator of a teen who is vaping.

  • An increase in nosebleeds also may occur. Depending on if your teen is vaping, and their frequency and type of vape device, drying of the nasal membranes will make it more susceptible for your teen to get nosebleeds.

  • Vape paraphernalia or unknown types of devices found in the home. If you are worried that your teen is vaping a quick search online can reveal the appearance of vape devices currently available. Finding one can be a good indicator if your youth is vaping.

  • Unusual purchases that they are not telling you about. Along with discreet packages being delivered.

signs that your child may be vaping

Keeping an eye out for signs that vaping is going on with your child can help prevent a problem before it starts.

But as anyone knows, or who has been one themselves, teen rebellion is a real thing. A teenager who has their sites on trying vaping for the first time will find some way to buy a vape or use a vape from a friend or family member.

To check all the boxes on ways you can prevent vaping with your child. Talking to them about how vaping has been shown to affect health is recommended.

How to talk to your teenager about vaping

An approach of listening rather than lecturing may yield better results.

Invite an open dialog between you and your child.

If you have the opportunity to talk with your child or teenager about vaping before you sense that they have already started may be best. And can stop them from even trying it.

With the media attention and the different ways they can hear about e-cigs there is no doubt they will be aware of vape existing in the world.

Get ahead of the problem. The right moment is now.

Be a good role model for your child.

But if you are using vape to quit smoking be sure they understand that as well. Sharing your struggle with quitting tobacco can help them understand that starting is much easier than stopping.

Be ready for questions and counter-arguments!

Know the facts and what studies have claimed so far.

Brain Development

Studies are being done. But what has been being revealed so far on teens who vape. Show that their brain development is being affected. As well as a decrease in attention span.

Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine found in tobacco and some vape products is highly addictive. Some studies show that teens are more likely to become addicted. This can possibly be due to their brains not being fully developed. 

For more information. The Surgeon General has a great vape tipsheet on extra tips and facts.

How to prevent teen vaping?

It's no surprise that more has to be done. By everyone, including vape manufacturers. To slow down the increase in youth vaping and one day stop it from getting in their hands for good.

There are programs put in place to prevent the acquisition of vaping getting into the hands of teens. Such as the We Card.org program. A non-profit organization. They serve retailers nationally who sell tobacco, vape, alcohol, and other age-restricted products.

We Card is being supported by different national and state organizations. Their goal is to help raise awareness at the retail level. They educate and train the employees at the businesses selling age verification purchases. Educating them on how to identify illegal purchases.

How to help my child quit vaping

As the increase in teen vaping increases, so do the available opportunities. Help for them to quit vaping.

Below is a list of sources to contact if your child vapes.

Smoke-Free Teen

Provided by the CDC. This website supports youth by offering coaching and helpful tips. Such as how to manage stress that may have caused them to start vaping. And factors like social pressure, or avoiding friends who vape.

My Life, My Quit

This program to help teen quit vaping and tobacco recently launched. But is only available in nine states. It gained some national coverage recently for its tactics to help teens. Such as communicating via text message and online chatting.

While some programs are providing services nationally. Many state ran anti-teen vaping programs exist.

Such as:

Make Smoking History

Provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. For over 20 years they have been fighting against the use of cigarettes. And now provide support for teens looking to quit vaping.

If you need further assistance after having a talk with your child about them vaping. Reach out to your local state government to see if any plans are being put in place.

What happens next?

Since vaping was introduced in the market in 2011. It increased substantially until 2015. Then dropped into 2016-2017, then started to rise again in 2018.

The question of what caused the drop in 2015-2016 may provide clues. Evidence on how we tackle this media-focused epidemic. Maybe the fact that there is so much more attention is making vape popular again.

Laws are being put in place frequently. And the age to legally buy vape and tobacco related products is increasing as well in many states.


As we were once teenagers ourselves. We know that once we have our mind on something, there is nothing in the world stopping us from getting it.

Education then, and keeping a caring eye on the ones we love most is the best place to start. For keeping youth away from vape.

Let us know what you think below.

Did you find your teen vaping? How did you talk to them about it? What worked? What didn't?

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