How to Talk to Your Kids About Vaping

Vaping is increasingly becoming a popular method of ingesting nicotine. While it has been around for nearly a decade, the use of these substances has gained steam in recent years. The popularity of vaping exploded in 2017, which took health care providers, families, and schools by surprise. Increased dangers have been associated with use as counterfeit batches entered into the mainstream market. We are slowly learning about the dangers of vaping.

Parents easily confuse vape pens, which are easy to conceal, with electronic gadgets like USB flash drives. Unlike cigarettes, vaping does not leave a lingering smell on clothes, which makes it much more discreet than smoking.

These factors appeal to underage users trying to conceal their use from their parents. The days of sniffing your teenager’s jacket or gym bag are long gone. A parent’s best bet is to have a good old-fashioned conversation.

Unfortunately, news of life-threatening illnesses linked to vaping has swept the nation. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vape use is at an all-time high among teens, and breaking down the dangers for your kids and teens is paramount.

It’s possible that your child is dealing with misinformation or peer pressure, and as an adult, you must know the facts about vaping.

What Is Vaping?

Vaping is the act of inhaling vapor created by an electronic cigarette or other vaping devices. E-cigarettes are smoking devices powered by batteries. Their cartridges contain flavorings, nicotine, and chemicals.

The liquid is then heated into a vapor, which the person can inhale several times throughout the day. Unlike cigarettes, they can be used virtually anywhere without recognition. Unfortunately, this has led to people vaping more than they’d smoke cigarettes and receive higher doses of nicotine than ever before.

What Are the Health Effects of Vaping?

Vaping hasn’t been around long enough for us to know its long-term effects, but health experts continue to learn more every day. These experts are showing severe lung damage in those who vape, and that has included some unfortunate deaths. Vaping puts high levels of nicotine into your child’s body, which is a highly addictive substance.

Nicotine effects may:

  • Irritate the lungs
  • Lead to cigarette smoking or other forms of tobacco use
  • Slow brain development in children; nicotine use can also affect memory, learning, concentration, self-control, mood, and attention
  • Increase the risk of addiction

How to Talk to Your Kids About Vaping

Young adults and teens are at a challenging stage in their lives, and sometimes listening to what their parents have to say is not the cool thing to do. With the increasing dangers of vaping, you must find an approach that works. You cannot allow your child or young adult to be peer pressured into using or let them believe what their friends might be saying. Here are some approaches you can take.

Explain the Health Risks of Vaping

If you think back to your teen and young adult days, you may remember feeling a sense of invincibility. You may have thought, “This can’t happen to me.” As we grew older, we realized how false that sense of security was; it’s likely your teen feels this way.

There are widespread misconceptions that vaping is safer than cigarettes, and most kids don’t realize that Juul or vaping products are nicotine. Most who start using didn’t sign up to become addicted, and talking to them about what is in these products is an excellent start to a conversation.

Dr. Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, a psychiatrist at Yale University, says the long-term health effects from the ingredients in vapes are unclear. “Tell your son or daughter that you should never put something in your body if you don’t know what is inside,” she advises.

Discuss Vaping’s Ties to Big Tobacco

One thing safety campaigns have been successful with over the years is highlighting the dangers of tobacco. Most teens agree that smoking is gross, and it’s not viewed as cool as we saw in earlier generations. Unfortunately, that stigma has not been passed on to the current generation, where most of them view vaping as cool and different from cigarettes. Your child or teen may feel that vaping is less “cool” when you explain how it is tied to the cigarette industry.

Help Your Kid Practice Saying ‘No’

Establish an open dialogue with your child and invite them to ask questions. It will give them a sense of security and come to you for help. Once this is established, you can help teach them how to say “no.” Peer pressure and acceptance in these times are crucial, but you should tell them that sometimes not following the crowd and saying no is the “cool” thing to do.

Teach, Don’t Preach

Vaping’s popularity is so widespread that children can be exposed to the practice at young ages. However, you may want to consider addressing the topic if you have a child in middle school or high school.

Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician, told U.S. News & World Report that in her practice, she has met middle-schoolers who vape during school hours and high-schoolers who vape a whole Juul pod daily. She noted that one Juul pod roughly contains the equivalent of the nicotine in one pack of cigarettes.

While it’s important to talk with your children about the risks of vaping, here are some things to keep in mind before you have the chat:

  • Find a time that works for you and your child. It’s important to have your child’s full attention, and you will need the time to explain your perspective.
  • Aim to have a thoughtful conversation. You want to have a talk with your child that ends with both of you being on the same page. Avoid using a tone of voice that could come off as being “preachy” or impatient.  Listen to your child and offer thoughtful answers based on what was said.
  • Tailor your advice to your child’s age and maturity level. This will make it easier for your child or teen to follow what you are saying. You may have to have more than one conversation about electronic cigarette use, and that’s OK.
  • Be upfront and honest. This is no time to beat around the bush. Tell your child directly that you don’t want them vaping and follow up with the reasons why you don’t. To get your message to stick, you have to go beyond just saying vaping is dangerous. Have resources on hand, such as fact sheets or news stories, to help illustrate your concern. Calmly explain what vaping is and the health effects that come about as a result of it.

You can view more tips for here from the Office of the Surgeon General. This guidance offers ways to keep the conversation going with your teen, such as through texting. You can also find reminder messages that you can text to keep your teen in the know about vaping and e-cigarette use.

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