As a parent, there is plenty to worry about, as we try to raise our children. We know that as children grow they become more independent from us and can make decisions that can alter their lives. Smoking cigarettes, which typically begins in high school, is one of those things that parents hope their children never do. As the rates of cigarette smoking have fallen dramatically among teenagers, most parents have breathed a sigh of relief. But now we are faced with a new problem, electronic nicotine delivery devices (often called e-cigarettes) that have become very sophisticated in their ability to deliver high levels of nicotine, while at the same time these devices have become very appealing to teenagers who probably would never have smoked a cigarette.
How should parents arm themselves so that they can counsel their children wisely about the use of these products?
Here a few things that might help you as you talk to year children about nicotine vaping devices.
Know the facts and ask your child what they know about vaping, and then educate.
Vaping is “safer” than smoking cigarettes but vaping is not “safe.” The aerosol that is inhaled from these devices contains a number of chemicals similar to cigarette smoke but in lower concentrations. Some of these chemicals cause cancer and can cause irritation to the lungs and heart.
E-cigarette aerosol contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance, especially when introduced to the developing brain. Dependence can happen quickly with repeated exposure, and lead to persistent use and strong cravings.
Studies also suggest that adolescents who vape are at a 25% greater risk of ultimately using regular cigarettes.
Know the “lingo” and know the products
Juul is the most popular e-cigarette vaping product among youth. Juul looks like a USB drive for computer and is easily disguised from teachers and parents. The nicotine is contained in disposable pods that contain high levels of nicotine- about as much nicotine as contained in up to 3 packs of cigarettes.
There are many other types of electronic cigarettes use by teenagers. Some look like pens and others are simply large containers of various shapes and sizes with a mouthpiece on the end.
To learn more about the emerging products called Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDs) visit Truth Initiative
“I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite if I smoke”
If you do currently smoke, be honest and talk to your kids about the struggle and difficulty of quitting or health consequences associated with it.
One thing to remember adolescents appreciate honesty and autonomy, when we approach with lectures and scolding they may come back with resistance and then rebel.
Reach out to teachers and principals at your schools and see what programs or policies they have in place
Talk to other parents
Talk to your healthcare provider about what you can do to help your children avoid the use of these products, or how to get help for your children who are using.
Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open and take action to help your children.