Why and how to talk to your kids about vaping

Why and how to talk to your kids about vaping

If ever there was a situation fitting of comparison to “Pandora’s box,” it’s where the country is with e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes, or vapes, were originally created to be a device that could still deliver the nicotine to someone with a smoking addiction, without all the known carcinogens as combustible cigarettes.

But because these devices weren’t regulated until the beginning of the year—and regulations still allow for loopholes such as flavors in disposable devices—they have caused negative health effects that manufacturers and public health officials didn’t foresee.

One of the most troubling aspects of e-cigarettes is their rising use among youth.

“About 28% of high schoolers and 11% of middle schoolers now use e-cigarettes, according to a recent JAMA study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” according to the Journal of American Medicine Association website.

So, if e-cigarettes don’t have the carcinogens that combustible cigarettes have, what’s the big deal?

Unfortunately, e-cigarettes come with their own set of dangers. According to the CDC, e-cigarettes can contain “Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs, flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease, volatile organic compounds, cancer-causing chemicals, and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.”

Additionally, nicotine is one of the most addictive substances we know of, and because the teenage brain is still developing, it’s particularly susceptible to addiction and interference with brain development from substances. According to the CDC, nicotine exposure during adolescence can “Impact learning, memory, and attention; increase risk for future addiction to other drugs; and young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to go on to use regular cigarettes.”

So, what is a parent to do? Simply talking to your children about the dangers and your disapproval can go a long way to preventing their using e-cigarettes. According to the parent conversation guide from the American Lung Association, parents should “Choose the right time and place, appeal to their good judgement, and use open-ended questions.” And the parenting style that shows the most effectiveness in preventing substance use is one that is not too harsh, and not too passive; what experts call the “authoritative parenting style.”

It can be scary to think of our children starting to use e-cigarettes and potentially damaging their lungs and brains, or worse. But many parents have more influence than they believe. Start the conversation with your child or teen today. It will make a difference.