Human Journey

Do Vape Pens Trick Teens?

By Jenny Bolario

Vape pens, or e-cigarettes, are often billed as a safer way for smokers to get their fix. The user breathes in water vapor infused with nicotine and exhales what looks like smoke. But with flavors like banana cream pie and alien blood, these pens are attracting a new generation of “smokers.” According to the CDC, the use of e-cigarettes has doubled in popularity among middle and high school students. And now the FDA is considering regulating them as tobacco products. Youth Radio explores what’s attracting young teens to “vaping” and the dangers they might be facing.

Youth Radio Investigates is an NSF-supported science reporting series in which young journalists collect and analyze original data with professional scientists, and then tell unexpected stories about what they discover. National Geographic News Watch partners with Youth Radio to share the work of the young journalists with the National Geographic audience. Check out more from Youth Radio’s science desk at
  • Ima Ryma

    The vape pen or e-cigarette.
    Is it really a safe “smoke” way?
    Using water vapor to let
    Into the lungs nicotine spray.
    Flavors like banana cream pie
    Add on a new bonus taste twist,
    Dessert with the nicotine high.
    Many of youth just can’t resist..
    So far legal for youth to use,
    And many have not smoked before.
    So what could be the harm to choose
    To vape away to be in more?

    The lastest fix for escaping,
    How safe is it to be vaping?

  • Anders B.

    It’s true that we don’t know exactly what the health effects of e-cigs are, but we know that nicotine is better than nicotine+tar+thousands of carcinogens. Over 20% of teenagers/early adults pickup smoking tobacco, and it’s been that way for decades. If that 20% were to become addicted to just nicotine gum, nicotine patches, or e-cigarettes instead of tobacco cigarettes, that would be an incredibly good thing. I use nicotine gum and a brand of electronic cigarettes from, and it’s really changed my life. People should worry more about tobacco, which is killing millions of people, than they worry about a safer alternative.

  • Shade Alighien

    You don’t need to have nicotine in it. It can be nicotine-free. Vapor dehydrates, so the reason the throat feels irritated after a session is because you should drink water while you do it. Also, it’s best to understand the two primary ingredients: Vegetable Glycerin and Propylene Glycerol. VG is absolutely safe, and PG sometimes causes allergic reactions, such as throat irritation. If you use a pure VG mix, it’s completely fool-proof, when not taking into account the contents of the flavoring itself. Out of a whole bottle, only a few droplets are the flavoring itself, and if you buy a made in USA, safe, water-based flavoring, you’re guaranteed a safe fluid. That’s why I tell everyone I know who vapes to either buy fluids from a very trusted source, or make it at home. Either way, when done properly, it’s 100% safe.

  • John

    It’s not water vapor, there is no water in it, there should not be water in it… It’s made up of vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol, nicotine and flavorings.

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (

Social Media