With all eyes on social media outlets and streaming services, it’s easy to be influenced with risky behaviors, no matter your age. When it comes to our young adult and teen populations, they are more easily pulled into risky behaviors, whether this be to “fit in” with their friends, to go along with the latest trend, or to have an outlet to make sense of the world they are entering into as young adults.
There is an epidemic of vaping among our teen and young adult populations. Teen vape use has increased exponentially over the past decade, despite the legal age of purchasing tobacco products increasing to 21 in the recent years.
As it stands, many believe that vaping is “healthier” than smoking, and it is marketed as such. However, that is a misleading trend. Not only this, most vapes and e-cigarettes are flavored with an array of enticing choices, pretty much any flavor you would want.
As parents and caregivers, we want to do all that we can to protect our children from the negative effects of use. Whether a child has not yet tried vaping, has already begun to vape or vapes regularly, this guide is intended to help you have an important talk about vaping with your kids.
First thing, first. Before you have the conversation with your kids, you need to know the facts.
What is vaping?
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol produced when using an electronic vapor device. Typically, the ingredients include nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals, many of which are toxic. Some vaping products also contain marijuana or other drugs.
What do they look like?
Vapes are small electronic devices with a heating element, a battery, and a place to hold liquid. They can come in many different shapes and sizes, but modern vapes are small and designed to resemble everyday objects like USB drives, pens, erasers, or even lipstick. Some vapes are disposable, while others can be reused by charging the device and refilling the liquid.
What is being vaped?
Although most any liquid substance can be vaped, teens and young adults most commonly vape flavored e-liquids with nicotine or marijuana. Adults and youth alike will refer to these devices as follows: when it contains nicotine, it is commonly referred to as a vape, and when it contains marijuana, it is considered a dab pen.
Commercial e-liquids contain a staggering amount of nicotine – often an amount equal to over two packs of cigarettes. These e-liquids come in thousands of tasty, unmistakably child-friendly flavors packed with chemicals that are designed to mask the harsh taste of nicotine. Increasingly, marijuana ingredients and other illicit drug ingredients are being found in vape liquids.
What are the health effects of vaping?
Nearly all vapes contain highly addictive nicotine and many contain as much as or more than traditional cigarettes. Nicotine increases heart rate, blood pressure, and inflammation, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and asthma.
Taking in high doses of nicotine can also lead to nicotine toxicity, which in severe cases can lead to seizures, respiratory failure, coma, and paralysis.
The other chemicals in vape liquid, including the flavorings, include cancer-causing and other toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and tiny particles that go deep into the lungs. These chemicals can cause lung damage, cell damage and reduce the ability to fight off infections.
Vaping can also induce coughing and wheezing, headaches, and vomiting; lead to behavioral and mood changes; and negatively affect attention, learning, and impulse control.
How to Discourage Your Child from Using These Products
Choose the right time and place – Choose a time when you kid won’t feel rushed and a place where they feel relaxed. By choosing a place you both feel comfortable, you’ll both be more inclined to have an open and frank discussion.
Appeal to their good judgement – Keep in mind your child makes smart decisions every day. Resisting the peer pressure to start vaping can be one of them. Remind them that they are an independent thinker that can make their own decisions.
Ask open-ended questions – Instead of asking yes or no questions, ask open-ended questions that encourage participation. If you are genuinely curious, your kid will be more likely to open up.
Once is not enough – Consider this an ongoing conversation. If your kids are reluctant to engage the first time you bring up vaping, don’t stop. Continuing to be open to discussing the topic can lead to honest discussions later.
Refer to the facts – Use the information in this post when you have the conversation. Educate your children on the dangers and be truthful about just how large of an impact inhaling these substances can have on their health.
For more information, help, and a list of conversation starters, check out the American Lung Association’s “How to talk to your kids about vaping” guide available online.