Talking to Kids About Vaping

When our kids are young, it’s hard to imagine them beyond the years of naptime, snacks and playdates with friends. The thought of talking about things like vaping are the furthest things from our minds. Then one day, it happens. (And it kind of feels just like that.) We look at our little one and see they aren’t so little anymore. It’s time to start having hard conversations about things that aren’t the easiest to talk about.

The Lowdown on Vape Pens

A relatively new device on the market that has wreaked havoc over the past years is the e-cigarette, also known as vape pens, vapes, e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods and tank systems. This device with a lot of names can come in a lot of styles, which is one of its appeals. It’s much easier to hide a vape pen than a cigarette with a hot flame and very distinct smell billowing from the end. And some vape pens, like the brand JUUL, are even shaped like USB flash drives, making them easy to conceal at school and even home. In addition, vape pens do not have a smell like their counterpart the cigarette, which makes it easier for them to be smoked almost anywhere undetected.

Why Vaping is Popular

It’s no wonder why vaping has grown in popularity with tweens and teens. And it also gives even more reason for parents to be on the lookout for signs of vaping. Because although vape pens might be more appealing to teens — with all of their design features, alluring smells and flavors — we need to warn kids not to be deceived. Vaping might not smell like your grandma’s cigarette, but it’s just as bad for you.

Start the Vaping Conversation

When talking to our teens about vaping, it’s important to discuss the facts about the product and the consequences of making this choice. For one, nicotine is a highly addictive substance. Nobody tries something with the goal of becoming addicted, and many people try something thinking, “I won’t be like everyone else.” But the reality is: That just isn’t the case. The best way to avoid addiction is to never give the substance a try.

Here are some facts from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) about the negative effects of vaping on children that you can incorporate into your conversation.

  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine — the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products.
  • A CDC study found that 99% of the e-cigarettes sold in the United States contained nicotine.
  • Some vape product labels do not disclose that they contain nicotine, and some vape liquids marketed as containing 0% nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.
  • Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain. The brain keeps developing until about age 25.
  • Using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control.
  • Each time a new memory is created or a new skill is learned, stronger connections — or synapses — are built between brain cells. Young people’s brains build synapses faster than adult brains. Nicotine changes the way these synapses are formed.
  • Using nicotine in adolescence may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.

In addition to talking about the facts, you may want to consider talking to your child about your own experiences with tobacco products. If your child is mature enough and ready, there is value in hearing our stories — when the time is right. of course.

Stop It In Its Tracks

And if your child has already tried vaping, know you aren’t alone. This is something that many young people try at some point in their lives. Let your child know you love them and that this doesn’t change your opinion of them. Talk more about the dangers of making this choice and the negative impact it can have on their mental, physical and emotional health. Tell them you are willing to walk alongside them as they quit and can help to come up with a plan.

Having a conversation about vaping isn’t the easiest conversation to have with your child, but it’s one you need to have, and the sooner you address the topic, the better for everyone involved.

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