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Local Therapist Shares Insights on Dangers of Teen Vaping

02/08/2019

Vaping rates today are escalating, especially among teens. Though vaping is a nicotine-delivery system, many teens perceive it as harmless. It looks cool, you don't smell like smoke after you use it, and it comes in candy colors and flavors. What's not to like? But according to licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Roger Butner, vaping is deceptively dangerous. In an interactive presentation to students at Runnels Junior and Senior High School on Feb. 4, he laid out compelling evidence to show that vaping is far from harmless.

Once a smoker himself, Dr. Butner said he tried vaping because it was popular, it tasted like Froot Loops, and he heard it was not as bad for you as smoking.  "This," he said, “was a mistake.”  Vaping is just as addictive or even more so than cigarette smoking. “Once you start vaping, you want to do it more and more,” he explained.

Though Dr. Butner said he was able to stop vaping and smoking, sometimes teens aren’t as motivated as they need to be in order to quit. “It was really hard to quit” he said.  “I caught myself thinking about it all the time.”

It’s hard because of the nicotine content. The liquid used in vaping is usually nicotine-based. With vaping, water vapor is inhaled instead of smoke, but that water vapor usually contains nicotine, so vaping is addictive just like cigarettes.

According to Dr. Butner, vaping won’t help smokers quit. In fact, vaping could be considered a gateway to smoking because the paraphernalia required for vaping, as well as the social dynamics that surround it, could contribute to the development of additional addictions.

In addition, vaping is harmful to our health. Since nicotine constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure, it has a detrimental effect on heart health. Also, vaping is relatively new, so we don’t know its long-term effects on health. It hasn’t been around for enough time to generate long-term research.

Teens need to be aware that vaping is harmful on another level, explained Dr. Butner. Vaping is an avoidance behavior that can lead young adults to lean on it for stress tolerance and problem-solving instead of more healthful and constructive methods that are critical for a teenager's personal development and growth.       

Because we can adjust some things about vaping, it appears that we have more control over it than smoking, but this isn’t the case, Dr. Butner added. Some factors involved in vaping such as the flavor and the amount of vapor puffed out can be changed, so it seems as though vaping is a more controllable option than smoking, but we have no control over what the manufacturer puts in the vaping liquid, and most vaping products contain nicotine. A whole new generation could be getting addicted to nicotine through vaping without really knowing it or understanding it.

Dr. Butner’s advice to the students is never to start vaping or smoking. Both are harmful to the body and both are addictive.