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Is Vaping A Gateway To Worse Things For Teens?


Sundance Canyon Academy has helped numerous teens overcome their battle with addiction and substance abuse. If your teen son struggles with addiction and substance use, contact us today to find out how we can help your family.

Rather than using the harsh methods of military schools and boot camps, our staff is trained in a therapeutic approach that focuses on permanent change. The therapists create personalized treatment plans for individual students so that each student receives the attention they deserve.

It’s well known that smoking cigarettes during the teen years can lead to further substance use, but what about vaping?

Vaping is still somewhat new on the scene, but it’s taking off with teens. For many parents who grew up with cigarette smoking being the “cool” thing to do, the new vaping trend is pretty confusing. Vaping in high school doesn’t seem to have the same edginess that cigarettes used to have, so can they still actually lead to drug or alcohol use?

The short answer: yes.

Vaping is a gateway to worse things for teens, much like cigarettes are.

Why is vaping appealing to teens?

Many teens start vaping because it’s something fun and new to try. Plenty of vape manufacturers also create scents and flavors that specifically appeal to kids. Cigarettes and cheap cigars did their best to taste like vanilla or mint, and vape flavors come in everything from coffee to cotton candy. These flavors are nowhere near as harsh as plain tobacco, and they even smell pretty good.

Since the smell doesn’t linger like cigarette smoke, it’s also a lot easier for teens to hide vaping from adults, so they don’t get caught. It’s also surprisingly easy for vape companies to get around federal laws to limit marketing to minors. When the government restricted the sale of flavored vape pods in early 2020, disposable vape pens took off. So even though it’s tougher to get flavored refillable vape pods, it’s still pretty easy to get flavored single-use pens.

Given the success of cigarette marketing in past decades, it should be no surprise that vape products’ marketing has had many successes.

Some of that success can be attributed to:

  • Product variation. Vaping products come in both refillable and disposable options. They also come in various shapes and sizes. Basic models resemble a large USB drive, but fancier models can look like an old-school tobacco pipe. With so many options on the market, teens can find a product that appeals to them.
  • Various flavors. As mentioned above, vape flavors are varied. They can be sweet and fruity or taste more like traditional tobacco. With so many options, teens can be tempted to keep vaping so that they can try a bunch of new flavors.
  • “Less harmful.” Vape products have been praised for theoretically being less harmful than tobacco products. So teens are more likely to try vape products because they think that vaping won’t cause the physical damage that cigarettes would. However, it’s unclear what the long term effects of vaping will be.

Why is vaping a gateway to worse things for teens?

While there are likely many reasons that vaping can be a gateway to other substances abuses, here are three of the most common reasons.

1. Nicotine

Though vape products don’t have tobacco in them as cigarettes do, they still contain nicotine. So, they are addictive. While vaping provides the nicotine that adult smokers need to wean themselves off of tobacco products, it also hooks new smokers just like smoking cigarettes. So as teens get used to needing the nicotine, they are more likely to pick up cigarettes along with vape products.

2. THC

As vaping has become more popular, it’s become easy to find THC vaping products. THC vape pods and juice (a liquid used to refill vape pens) can be used interchangeably with many common vape pens. So teens who already have a regular refillable vape pen can also use THC juice if they want to.

3. Ease of transition

Just like with cigarettes, once teens have already broken the taboo of doing something they’re not supposed to do, they’re more likely to keep trying new things. In a very basic way, vaping is a gateway to worse things for teens because it seems so harmless but makes it easier to try cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs.

If your teen has started vaping, talk to them about the dangers associated with vaping. Being addicted to anything, even something that seems as harmless as vaping can be dangerous. It increases the likelihood of further addiction, and science has not yet determined the long-term effects of vaping.

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