Can you tell if your child is vaping?

Can you tell if your child is vaping?

Here are some clues to look out for if you suspect that your child may be vaping.

If you discover that your teen is vaping, address it as you would any other health risk and try to resist the urge to lecture, yell at or punish them. It is important to keep the lines of communication open, show your child that you are concerned about their health and safety, and keep the discussion from devolving into a useless standoff.


You may find devices that look like flash (USB) drives, e-juice bottles, pods/cartridges (that contain e-juice) or product packaging. Aside from leaf marijuana, gel jars that contain highly concentrated marijuana extract (dabs), small tools to scoop dabs and cartridges that contain THC oil (a yellowish-brown substance) are signs of vaping marijuana.

Online purchases / packages in the mail / store purchases

Be on the lookout for purchases made online and charged to your credit card or unusual packages that arrive in the mail which may contain vaping products. Kids also buy vapes at big box stores, gas stations or from other friends.


While the smell from vaping is faint, you may catch a whiff of a flavoring. For example, if you smell bubble gum when there’s no gum in their room or chocolate cake when you aren’t baking anything, take note. It might be a flavored nicotine vape. Marijuana vapes can produce a skunk-like smell.

Increased thirst / nose bleeds / interest in stronger flavors

Some of the chemicals used in e-juices dry out the mouth and nose. As a result, some kids drink more liquids, have nosebleeds and may begin to crave stronger flavors (when the mouth is dry, flavor perception is reduced).

Decreased caffeine use

Some teens and young adults who vape nicotine develop a sensitivity to caffeine because both nicotine and caffeine are stimulants. The combination of multiple stimulants can make them feel anxious. If your child drank caffeinated energy drinks and has cut back or quit, it may be because of vaping.

Vaping slang

You may see vaping slang in text messages such as “atty” for an atomizer, “VG” for vegetable glycerin found in e-juice or “sauce” referring to e-juice. Getting “nicked” refers to the euphoria experienced with high doses of nicotine. Feeling “nic sick” refers to heart palpitations, nausea/vomiting or lightheadedness associated with the overuse of nicotine vapes.

Social media and online references

Kids often brag about vaping on social media. Look for pictures or references on their Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter and other social media accounts. Take note of popular vaping terms in their online searches.

Appearance and behavior changes

Vaping nicotine may lead to anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating and loss of appetite. Vaping marijuana can result in bloodshot eyes, dry mouth and thirst, increased appetite and shifts in behavior and mood. Sometimes, there is a noticeable change in friends and a decrease in activities that they once enjoyed.

Physical symptoms

Physical side effects of vaping may include trouble breathing, headaches, cough, dizziness, sore throat, chest pain and allergic reactions such as itchiness or swelling of the lips. More severe effects include worsening of asthma symptoms, lung disease or failure and heart disease.

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