How vaping harms students’ mental health: Tips for parents and educators

Returning to school can be stressful for students, especially after a long break. With the added pressure of trying to keep up with classes, homework, and social activities, it can be tempting to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like vaping. Tobacco companies are promoting vapes as a stress reliever and a healthier alternative to smoking, but this claim is far from accurate. Vapes, like cigarettes, contain nicotine that can harm their health and mental well-being.

What can parents, teachers, influential adults, and school administrators do?

Educators and parents can share facts and valuable information with students to help them make informed decisions. They can encourage students to choose activities that benefit their physical and mental health, such as journaling, art, exercise, meditation, or spending time with friends and family.

When students take care of themselves, they can handle the stress of school in a healthy, positive way. Ultimately, this can lead to a decrease in harmful choices such as vaping.

Choose You WA

We’ve partnered with, which helps students prioritize their emotional health and well-being. It offers a variety of resources and tools to help young people manage stress, improve their relationships, live a more fulfilling life, and choose to learn the facts about vaping.

Choose the facts!

Tobacco companies have a history of using attractive flavors and packaging to target teens. But there are tons of not-so-pretty risks when it comes to vaping. Knowing the facts can help students keep sight of their values and priorities.

  • Vaping and smoking can lead to nicotine addiction. This addiction can severely affect students’ mental health, especially regarding brain development. Nicotine use can cause a loss of control, leading students to feel controlled by the addiction. An Auburn Mountainview student told us, “I wish I knew how addictive vaping is — it takes away my ability to cope… and I want to be a better role model for my siblings.” 
  • Harmful vape chemicals can cause cancer and lead to increased feelings of anxiety and depression.
  • Vaping and commercial tobacco companies target groups like BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities, making them more likely to use and face addiction.
  • Vaping products often show up as litter, don’t biodegrade, and are toxic to the environment and animals.
  • Quitting can help students live longer, healthier lives. Parents and educators can educate teens on the dangers of vaping and nicotine addiction to help prevent long-term adverse effects.

Choose healthy coping!

When life gets overwhelming, reaching for a vape or cigarette may seem like a quick fix, but nicotine can keep youth from finding calm. The next time things get stressful, tell a student to give one or more of these ideas a go:

  • Flex your creativity: Spend dedicated time on your creative hobbies or explore something new that can give your mind a welcome break.
  • Give back: Volunteering is a great way to stay connected with your community or plug into a cause you care about.
  • Take a tech break: Unplugging from social media occasionally can help reduce feelings of stress and burnout.

Choose to get help!

If a student struggles with nicotine addiction or needs someone to talk to, help is out there. Here are some resources:

Support with Quitting

  • 2Morrow Health: A free and anonymous app that helps students deal with difficult thoughts, urges, and cravings caused by nicotine.
  • This is Quitting: A text-to-quit vaping service for people in Washington ages 13-24. Text DITCHVAPE to 88709.
  • Live Vape Free: A youth texting program for teens ages 13 to 17 that is fun, easy to navigate, and teaches the skills to quit vaping for good. Text VAPEFREE to 873373.

Support with Mental Health

  • Teen Link: A free, confidential helpline for teens by teens. Call, text, or chat at 1-866-833-6546
  • Crisis Text line: A FREE 24/7 text-based crisis intervention service. Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor.
  • Washington Recovery Help Line: A 24/7 confidential helpline for anyone struggling with substance abuse or mental health. Call 1-866-789-1511

What You Can Do to Protect Youth From the Harms of Vaping” is a new CDC feature article that gives parents and educators tips and resources to help them protect youth from the harms of vaping.

Students can stay healthy and focused throughout the school year by prioritizing self-care, seeking counseling or support groups, and avoiding harmful habits like vaping.

For additional resources, visit and our website:

Originally published 9/11/2023