Recently, the US surgeon general issued an advisory on teen use of e-cigarettes, with experts also stating that it’s reaching epidemic proportions.
Alcohol and cigarette consumption have fallen among high school students, but the use of electronic cigarettes, also known as vaping, is steadily increasing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20.8% of high school students reported in 2018 that they used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days compared to 1.5% in 2011.
While there is some evidence that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes and may be useful for adults who are trying to quit smoking, vaping is not without health risks.
E-cigarettes pose greater risks to teens without any of the potential benefits. The CDC reported that if smoking continues at the current rate among youth in this country, about 1 of every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger today will die early from a smoking-related illness.
Tobacco industry experts are becoming savvier in their pursuit to sell more products, creating vape pens in different shapes and flavors, such as an easily concealed USB flash drive designed by the company, Juul. A study conducted in 2018 revealed that teens are 16 times more likely to use JUUL than older age groups. Teens are often found “JUULing” in classrooms and bathrooms at school. One standard JUUL cartridge delivers the equivalent nicotine of a pack of cigarettes, making it even more addictive, as well as increasing the risk of harm to brain development.
As a parent, it’s essential to understand the consequences of vaping and be able to talk about them with your family. In this article, you will learn strategies that can help prevent your teen from vaping.
Another recent study found that more than half of high school seniors believed that vaping delivered just flavoring, even though most products contain nicotine. Accurate information and open dialogue can safeguard your teen’s wellbeing.
Tips on Preventing Vaping
The following strategies can help:
1. Know the risks. While e-cigarettes may have fewer toxins, they still contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals, metals, and carcinogens. They increase the risk of heart and respiratory conditions, and teens who vape are more likely to smoke regular cigarettes as well, especially later on in life.
2. Stay updated. Keep track of trends in teenage vaping. As stated earlier, some of the most popular current devices are pods that look like a computer flash drive. Some low vapor products are so discreet they can even be used during class.
3. Discuss vaping. Have a two-way conversation about facts with your teen rather than lecturing them or using scare tactics. Be direct about your concerns and prepared to revisit the subject as often as needed.
4. Be a role model. Set a positive example. You’ll have more credibility if you’re tobacco-free yourself.
Tips on Quitting Vaping
Quitting vaping or smoking tends to be a little easier for anyone who has had a relatively brief exposure to nicotine. If your teen is already vaping, they can stop successfully with your support.
Try these techniques to help them stop:
1. Provide encouragement. Praise and reassurance from you and their peers will reinforce your child’s efforts. See if there’s a teen support group in your area or consider starting one.
2. Avoid nicotine replacement. Nicotine has been shown to have a negative impact on adolescent brain development, and most teens will not require such products. However, if you suspect that your child may be nicotine dependent, your doctor can recommend effective treatment options.
3. Manage stress. Using nicotine at any age may be an attempt to cope with stress. Help your child find safer alternatives, such as physical exercise and talking about their concerns.
4. Ask for help. There are many sources of additional information and guidance about quitting vaping or smoking. Ask your doctor for suggestions or contact the National Cancer Institute Hotline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
Tips on Dealing with Peer Pressure
It’s natural for teens to have a strong desire to fit in. Being able to handle peer pressure will help protect them from vaping and other harmful behavior.
Consider these ideas:
1. Boost self-esteem. Confidence and a healthy self-image make your child less vulnerable to negative social influences. Help them to set goals and value their strengths.
2. Encourage positive friendships. Teen friendships can have beneficial effects too. Make it a point to get to know your children’s friends and monitor their social media activity.
3. Plan ahead. Spend time with your child rehearsing how to respond if someone asks them to vape. Develop multiple options they can use in different situations.
Remember that while vaping may be safer than smoking, it’s still associated with serious health risks, especially for adolescents. Talk with your children about vaping to help them make sound decisions about their future.
For more information on smoking and tobacco use, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.