Vaping and Young People

We did something a little different this meetup, thanks to a local volunteer named Rayna Mandadi who is passionate about the topic. Rayna is in 7th grade student attending Meyzeek Middle School and she shared both her own internet and observational research, on top of the study we were reviewing around quality of life and smoking.

We jumped right into Rayna’s presentation and then she proceeded to field questions in a turbo round format, as there was no shortage of curiosity from the crowd.

One question that the adults in the room were strongly concerned about was around self regulation. Tobacco smokers are able to physically count the cigarettes they smoke to control the amount of nicotine they intake. E-cigarettes don’t have those concerns and Rayna shared that kids have been physically ill after vaping but keep coming back.

This lead to a lot of concern around nicotine intake and the way that e-cigarettes continue to be designed around maximizing nicotine intake.

Kids & E-Cigarettes?

Yes. Rayna confirmed that there are a number of “cool kids” that vape at her middle school. From her viewpoint, there is not a socio-economic barrier to vaping. It’s not just a “rich kid” thing. Kids who “want to be cool” will find a way to get their hands on e-cigarettes.

She also mentioned that the activity is able to cross social norms – and relayed an anecdote of a small group of straight A students that would otherwise not be considered cool getting into vaping because of the allure.

We discussed that the easiest way for kids to get a hold of vape juice is through older siblings who are of age – but we also found out that Snapchat and Instagram additional ways for underage kids to purchase e-cigarettes.

We also had a representative from Male High School and Silver Creek Elementary School in the audience - as this is a topic that most young people know about. With all three grade levels represented the gist from the students was that vaping currently begins in middle school...

Research Discussion

The study found that college students at the University of Louisville who use e-cigarettes appeared to be psychologically distressed. But the City on Science collective discussed that there is a difference between e-cigarettes causing psychological distress and psychologically distressed young people “self-medicating” with e-cigarettes and other substances.

This appears to be something that could be controlled for in future studies to learn more about the relationship.

The concern of the group throughout the conversation was that we know that introducing a highly addictive substance to the adolescent brain while it is still forming can virtually lock the user into a life long addiction.

This has happened in our society with cigarettes, but not to the apparent degree that it is happening now. It was noted during the discussion that there was a very small sample size of e-cigarette users in the study. But also, that the study was conducted four years ago and e-cigarette usage has exploded among young people over that time frame.


Read Study Before Meetup
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Future Research

When it comes to e-cigarettes, the group was interested in a broad array of research around the following areas:

How are social channels like Snapchat and Instagram influencing e-cigarette usage among young people?
Do e-cigarettes cause psychological distress, or do the psychologically distressed choose to use e-cigarettes?
How are e-cigarette users introduced to nicotine?
Quality of Life
What are the self reported symptoms related to e-cigarette usage?
Quality of Life
What are the long term health affects of regular nicotine use?
Quality of Life
What are the long term population health affects to young people becoming addicted to e-cigarettes?
Why don't we see more youth with acute nicotine poisoning?

About City on Science

City on Science reviews and discusses local research to increase the scientific knowledge and curiosity of the people of the Louisville Metropolitan Area. Our goal is to develop a collaborative agenda of future research topics and questions that matter to the community.

Founded in April 2019 as a pilot project for the Superfund Research Center at the University of Louisville Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute in partnership with the School of Public Health and Information Science, the City on Science project is managed by community members with fiscal sponsorship from 501(c)(3) nonprofit Institute for Education, Research, and Scholarship (IFERS).