Questions for ‘Warning! Nicotine poses special risks to teens’

a photo of a teen with a short blue and pink dyed hair exhaling a plume of smoke

Vaping as a teen frequently leads to smoking cigarettes as an adult and can set up the brain for other addictive behaviors, as well.

Yana Iskayeva/Moment/Getty Images Plus

To accompany ‘Warning! Nicotine poses special risks to teens


Before Reading:

  1. What health concerns are associated with smoking cigarettes? Which of these concerns are also true of vaping?
  2. What are some ingredients in vape pods and other types of e-cigarettes? If you don’t know what’s in them or how safe the ingredients are, what steps could you take to learn more about them?

During Reading:

  1. List five ingredients found in vape liquids.
  2. Relative to cigarettes, how much nicotine is found in a single JUUL vape pod?
  3. Compared with adults, are teens more or less vulnerable to nicotine addiction? What does it mean that nicotine is highly addictive?
  4. What effects does nicotine have in the brain that cause it to be addictive?
  5. What behavioral changes did Robert Smith observe in rats given nicotine as adolescents? What is one brain region he thinks is involved in these changes?
  6. Describe the concept of “pruning” connections between brain cells. Why is this process important for healthy brain development?
  7. What are microglia? How are they affected by nicotine?
  8. Why do brain changes during early adolescence have lasting effects into adulthood?
  9. What are two mental health conditions that may be linked to nicotine use during the teen years?
  10. In Carlos Bolaños-Guzmán’s research, how did the behavior of rats change after exposure to nicotine during adolescence? What did he infer about how the rats might be feeling?

After Reading:

  1. Some companies market vape products suggesting they are a safer alternative to cigarettes. Do you think such claims are likely to be true? Why or why not? Use information you read in this story to back up your argument.
  2. The story describes evidence that nicotine use during adolescence can have effects that last into adulthood (such as addiction and mental health issues). Based on this evidence, do you think vaping should be illegal for teens? Again, use information from the article to bolster your answer.