KU Cofrin Logan Center to Host Public Lecture on Vaping, Teen Health

Do you have questions about vaping? Want to know more about the health effects of e-cigarettes? Confused by terms like cart, Vuse, mod or Puff Bar? 

Parents, educators, health care professionals and users of vaping products are invited to a free public lecture on vaping and teen health by Elisa Trucco at 6 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St. The Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment, a part of the KU Life Span Institute, is hosting the event and welcoming Trucco for its 2023 spring seminar series.

A vaping device is in focus in the center of a wood table outside with filtered sunlight through trees.Trucco is the director of the Research on Adolescent and Child Health (ReACH) Lab at Florida International University, which studies the biological, social and personality factors that lead to alcohol, e-cigarette, and drug use among adolescents and young adults. Trucco speaks frequently to youth, parents and other health experts about vaping and substance use.  

While young people may be familiar with vaping terms, that doesn’t mean they are aware of the potential risks. A 2018 Truth Initiative study showed that nearly two-thirds of JUUL users aged 15-21 were not aware the product always contains nicotine.

“We provide an overview of what e-cigarettes are, because, for the most part, parents have no idea,” Trucco said. 

Trucco will discuss why adolescents begin using nicotine products, share information on how to minimize the risk for youth starting to use e-cigarettes, and how to quit. 

“There are tips that parents can use to start to have a conversation with their teenage children about vaping,” Trucco said.

Trucco’s talk also will include an overview of e-cigarettes, their prevalence compared to traditional cigarettes, and their health effects.

While cigarette use has fallen to an all-time low over the past two decades, vaping has risen significantly among teenagers. From 2017 to 2019, teens who reported vaping within the past year nearly doubled among middle and high school students, according to researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Since the pandemic, numbers have leveled off, but teens are five times as likely to vape nicotine rather than smoke cigarettes, according to federal data from the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey, and more than 1 in 4 middle and high school-aged youth use e-cigarettes daily.

Nicotine in any form is addictive and concentrations of the drug in vaping products are much higher than in traditional methods of smoking. It’s also far less expensive: for about $20, a person can purchase the nicotine equivalent of 800 cigarettes.

“E-cigarettes are viewed as or generally have been marketed as harmless substances,” Trucco said. “That’s one of the myths that we explore with parents and teens.” 

Trucco also will offer a talk for researchers, students and clinicians on Friday, Feb. 17 at 11:30 a.m. in the Dole Human Development Center for the Cofrin Logan Center’s spring seminar series. Other speakers in the series are Taneisha Scheuermann from the KU Medical Center on Friday, March 10, and Mollie Monnig of Brown University on Friday, April 7. More details about the spring seminar series are on the center's website.