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The Facts About Vaping

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Kristin: Good morning, this is your Wellness Wake Up Call with Kristin Bogdonas, nutrition, and wellness educator for University of Illinois Extension, serving Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, and Stark Counties. Joining me today is Krishna Marme, the Community Tobacco Consultant for Scott County Health Department.

Krishna: Good morning, Kristin, and thank you for having me on.

Kristin: Good morning! The first time I heard you speak about vaping was at the Be Healthy QC coalition meeting in June and I was blown away by some of the information you shared about vaping in our community. I think most people know the health risks of smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco but since vaping is relatively new, there may be some confusion on whether or not it is risk free or addictive. I’d love for you to do some myth busting with us this morning and also shed some light on current vaping and tobacco use statistics in our community.

Krishna: Absolutely!

Vaping first came on the market as a way to help traditional cigarette users quit, but now we know these products have actually led to a whole new generation of nicotine addicts. The Iowa Youth survey shows a decrease of an increase on the use of e-cigarettes among youth over the past couple of years. While this is good news, school officials continue to deal with children who vape. (corrected 8/10/23) Illinois has seen an increase. (Click HERE for the WVIK News story about it.)

Vaping and tobacco use is prevalent in the Quad Cities and through my meetings with educators, school administration, resources officers, and other community members this issue is in every school and greatly affects student life. Many students have shared that they don’t use the bathrooms during the school day because they are either locked to curb vaping or they don’t want to expose themselves to the second hand aerosol.

Kristin: Wow, it is alarming to think how young some of these children are when they first start vaping! I’m sure most of these kids, and some parents even, think vaping is harmless which is a myth, correct?

Krishna: Yes! Originally when these products were first on the market, tobacco companies tried to say “oh it’s just water vapor its fine” Now we know that the cloud of vapor you see when you exhale is actually an aerosol. Aerosols have solid and liquid particles in a gas form containing, ultrafine, cancer-causing particles that go deep into the lungs.

Kristin: Yikes! So not only is it detrimental to the smoker, it also affects those in close proximity. Can you shed some light on the myth that vaping is safe and non-addictive?

Krishna: Absolutely, so to go back to the issue of addiction, nicotine reaches the brain in about 10 seconds and activates the areas of the brain that create sensations of satisfaction and happiness. The problem is this effect does not last very long and people quickly experience withdrawal. No one likes the feeling of withdrawal leading them to take another hit leading to a cycle of repetitive use. I should also mention that one cartridge can contain the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

There are vapes that say they don’t contain nicotine, but these are still harmful because you still are breathing in a substance deep into your lungs causing irreversible lung scarring.

Kristin: We need to be more proactive in teaching our youth about the harms of vaping since it is so widespread in our schools. What are some resources and tips that would be helpful for parents and caregivers to know?


In every educational session I do at school and in the community, I make sure to say that I will never judge anyone using these products because it’s very hard to quit. The state of Iowa has many programs to help including, My Life My Quit, Your Life Iowa, and Quitline. All of these counseling services are free and confidential. If you are in IL, you can also call the Tobacco Quitline.

In Illinois and Iowa it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to have any tobacco products. This includes vapes.

Parents should know that these products can look like everyday items, such as a USB drive or pen. I urge parents and caregivers to talk to their children about how harmful these products are and support their child if they are struggling with this addiction. All schools in the Quad Cities are dealing with this overwhelming issue and collective community action is key to solving this problem.

Kristin: I agree, speaking with the children in our lives about the harmful effects of vaping is a good first step. Let's work together to protect our youth and promote a smoke-free environment for everyone! Thank you to Krishna Marme for sharing her valuable insights on this pressing issue. For those who missed any part of this interview or want to learn more about the tobacco counseling services mentioned, please visit WVIK.org/wellness.

Thank you for listening! This has been Kristin Bogdonas, nutrition & wellness educator for University of Illinois Extension, serving Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, and Stark Counties.

Wellness Wake Up Call is produced by WVIK in partnership with University of Illinois Extension, and sponsored by The Planning Center in Moline, assisting men and women with financial wellness and preparation for life's transitions, including retirement planning, college savings, marital changes, and estate planning.

Additional resources:

1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669)

  • YourLifeIowa.org for Children and Adults– bonus of mental health help

Call: (855)-581-8111
Text: (855)-895-8398

Or Live Chat on website

Krishna Marmé, MPH

Community Tobacco Consultant, Scott County Health Department

600 West 4th Street, Davenport, IA 52801-1003

P. 563.326.8618, ext. 8532 l F. 563.326.8774

Kristin Bogdonas believes that everyone deserves access to fresh, affordable food and is committed to helping people improve their health literacy. In this digital age it can be difficult to decipher what nutrition information is accurate and what is hype. Connecting people with factual information and evidenced-based programs will help people build the skills and attain the knowledge necessary for positive behavior change. Although nutrition is important for a long and healthy life, one should not overlook the other dimensions of health required for overall wellbeing; physical, mental, emotional, vocational, spiritual, environmental and social. Each dimension impacting the next.