Twelve Talks to

Have With Teens

Vape & Tobacco

Vaping is on the rise across the country, and Colorado continues to have the highest rates of youth vaping in the country. Many teens don’t realize that vaping, like other forms of tobacco use, can lead to serious health problems and cause a teen’s developing brain to be more prone to addiction in the future. 

  • While fewer youth are smoking cigarettes, the rapidly growing popularity of electronic cigarettes (vaping devices) has the potential to undo decades of declining youth tobacco use. In Colorado, one third of high school students are currently using at least one form of tobacco — including 14 percent of high school students who currently use some form of non-electronic tobacco product (cigarettes, chew or spit tobacco, cigars, cigarillos, etc.) and 27 percent of high school students who currently use electronic cigarettes. 

  • Youth who use electronic cigarettes (vaping devices) are four times more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes in the future.

  • Vape companies target youth through sleek designs, social media advertising and thousands of appealing candy/fruit-like flavors. Most youth cite appealing flavors as the number one reason why they vape.

  • Vaping devices are marketed to youth as being stealthy and something you can do anywhere at any time, even in the bathroom or classroom in school. They can be disguised in hoodies, as key fobs, in mint tins, etc. It’s important to remember that stealth vaping culture is heavily marketed to youth by the tobacco industry.

  • Jefferson County high school students have easy access to vape and tobacco products. Due to lack of regulation compared to other tobacco products (like cigarettes needing to be kept behind the counter), vape products can, and often are, placed in self-service displays at eye level for younger youth or right next to candy and snacks. 

  • Vape juice most commonly contains three ingredients: propylene glycol and/or glycerin, chemicals for flavoring and nicotine. The pods for JUULs (one of the most popular vaping device brands among teens) contain nicotine 100 percent of the time. The amount of nicotine in one JUUL pod is equivalent to an entire pack of cigarettes, making vape juice highly addictive.

  • The teen years are especially crucial because this is when long term forming takes place. Introducing an addictive substance, like nicotine, into this development can potentially lead to permanent alterations in brain chemistry and make the brain more vulnerable to other forms of addiction in the future.

  • CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners are investigating a multistate outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI). Click here for up-to-date information on CDC research.

Does your teen vape or smoke? 

Click here for Jeffco resources to help them quit.

Hear from Jeffco Public Schools about data and research related to vaping and tobacco use, and learn how you can offer support to your teen.  (3:30)

How to start a conversation

  • Ask open-ended questions, such as:

    • “I was reading about vaping earlier. Where do you see people vaping at your school? Why do you think people your age vape?”

    • “What do you think about addiction? What do you know about nicotine being addictive?” 

    • “If your friends wanted to try JUULing, how would you handle that?”


  • Talk with your teen about the vaping ads they see on social media and look at these ads together. How does the tobacco industry want you to feel when you see these ads? How does it feel to be targeted by the tobacco industry? Tell me about the vaping ads you see…how do they make you feel? What do you think the tobacco industry wants you to believe about these products?

  • Ask your teen why they think vaping is so popular and why youth use tobacco products. Is it to cope with stress? Socially normal? Pressure? 

  • Talk with your teen about the consequences of tobacco use. How do they think using these products could impact their future? What happens if they get caught at school with a vaping device? What about the health consequences? How might vaping impact your ability to do well in school or at sports? What do you know about nicotine being addictive? How harmful do you perceive vaping to be?

Quick tips

  • Learn about vaping before you start the conversation. Dr. Glass provides a great overview about vaping in a video message from Jeffco Public Schools.


  • Youth vaping has become prominent because of how it is perceived as “normalized,” which is a result of increased product accessibility to teens and tobacco industry targeting adolescents. Because of this, many teens believe that “everyone vapes,” when in reality 29% of Jefferson County youth report currently using e-cigarettes.


  • Don't accept vaping as inevitable, "healthier than smoking" or something to ignore.


  • Vaping or e-cigarette devices come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Familiarize yourself with what these products look like. Some of the most popular are the JUUL and the Sourin.


  • Let your teen know what your values are about "plugs" selling addictive and harmful substances to younger kids. 

Things to do

  • Familiarize yourself with your school’s Tobacco Free School (TFS) Policy. Make sure you and your teen both know and understand the consequences for being caught with these devices. Find Jeffco Public Schools’ TFS Policy here


  • Let your youth know what your family, team or organization rules and values are about smoking and vaping. Also, let them know you are not okay with their friends vaping and smoking in your car or home.


  • Starting the Conversation on Vaping: Free workshop led by Tobacco-Free Jeffco on how to talk to young people about vaping. For parents/guardians, teachers, coaches, mentors, law enforcement and anyone else who works with youth. Click here for upcoming workshops


  • If you or your teen is smoking or vaping and would like help quitting, visit Tobacco-Free Jeffco for a list of free resources that are designed for teens who are ready to quit.

Recommended Resource

Other Recommended Resources

  • Navigating Substance Experimentation in Teens Free Parent Workshop This free, temporarily online, workshop provides strategies, information and resources for parents or guardians whose teen has been caught using vape, tobacco, alcohol, marijuana or taking someone else's prescription medication. The workshop is led by professionals in teen substance use prevention and takes place at Jefferson County Public Health in Lakewood on the 1st Wednesday of each month from 6-8 PM. The class is free. Register here.

  • Tobacco-Free Jeffco: Jefferson County coalition supporting the goal of reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke and its harms to people, communities, pets and the environment.

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This project was created by the Jefferson County Communities That Care coalition and is housed within Jefferson County Public HealthThis resource was developed with funding from a Communities That Care grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, a grant from Community First Foundation and a Drug-Free Communities grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the grant providers.