If you’re like many parents, you don’t know how important it is to talk to your kids about vaping. Perhaps you’re not very familiar with vapor products or you don’t feel equipped to talk about the subject.
Or maybe you’ve heard that e-cig devices are less harmful than cigarettes and are, in fact, a useful smoking cessation tool.
Here are some quick facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the risks of e-cigarettes for kids, teens, and young adults:
- The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults.
- Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development.
- E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine.
- Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
Before you start talking to your kids about vaping, be sure you have the facts.
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Important Facts About Vaping
Conventional cigarettes produce smoke that is inhaled. Vaping products produce an aerosol that is inhaled. This aerosol isn’t just a harmless water vapor — in addition to nicotine, it may contain toxic chemicals that could be linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart diseases.
It’s important to understand that the use of vapor products among youth is exploding. The CDC found that flavors are a big part of the reason teens attracted to these products.
Recent FDA research shows that vaping among high school and middle school students has risen from 48 to 78 percent. And that upward trend is accelerating.
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What Makes Vaping Addictive and Dangerous
Last year, researchers from the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California at San Francisco concluded that smoking e-cigs doubles a person’s odds of having of a heart attack.
While the long-term dangers on the heart and lungs continue to be studied, the center found that “e-cigarettes actually make it harder to quit smoking, so people end up as ‘dual users’ who keep smoking cigarettes while also using e-cigarettes.” For daily dual users, the risk of a heart attack increases by a factor of five.
Nicotine is also highly addictive, and the vapor from e-cigarette products deliver a concentrated dose of it. Just recently, the FDA reported that some e-cigarette users — mostly youth and young adults — have experienced seizures which signals a potential emerging safety issue.
To put this in perspective, consider that a single pod of one of the most popular vaporizers on the market delivers the nicotine equivalent of an entire pack of cigarettes. And seizures and convulsions are known potential side effects of nicotine toxicity.
How to Talk to Your Kids About Vaping
Before starting a conversation with your kids, consider that teens put a high-value social inclusion, self-expression, positive reinforcement, and fun. Healthy physical habits are of little, if any, importance.
So don’t start by explaining the dangers of nicotine vaping or the probability of progressing to harder drugs. Show genuine curiosity by asking noncombative questions such as:
⦁ What’s the most popular vape flavor at your school? (Have you tried it?)
⦁ Why do you think so many teens are vaping these days? (What about it, if anything, would appeal to you?)
⦁ What have you seen teens give up to spend time and money vaping? (What would you rather do with that time or money?)
⦁ Are there more effective ways to show the world you’re independent, brave, or adventurous?
Once your kid feels safe and chatty, ask what perceived need this activity would fill. Use their answers to frame the discussion.
Gently point out the harm caused by vaping and the chemical effects of inhaling e-liquids. Don’t lecture. Remind your child that you were interested in fulfilling those same desires when you were young.
Make the conversation an ongoing one. Suggest that your children visit the National Institutes of Health’s SmokeFreeTeen site and check out the mobile app which feature tools to help teens get and stay free from a nicotine addiction. Encourage your kids to think about how the information applies to real life and plan a time to discuss it together.
Your child’s generation knows all about e-cigs and other vaporizers; as a parent, you should too.
From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh ranks consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital is a longtime national leader for women and their newborns. We aim to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond.