E-cigarette usage is on the rise among teenagers. According to the US Surgeon General, e-cigarette usage increased 78 percent among high school students from 2017 to 2018, with more than 3.6 million US youth now using e-cigarettes (or vaping).
If you’re a parent and feeling concerned about this trend and looking for some advice on how to talk to teenagers about it, there are a few ways to approach the topic.
How to Talk to Teenagers About Vaping and the Ingredients in E-Cigarettes
Sixty-six percent of teens participating in a poll conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse said they believed their e-cigarettes “just contained flavoring,” while 13 percent admitted to not knowing what they were smoking at all. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, and can possibly rewire young teenage brains to become hooked on other substances. What’s more, researchers are starting to discover that the chemicals in e-liquids, and the chemicals produced during the vaping process may be toxic.
When you talk to your teenager about vaping, it’s extremely important to educate them on the ingredients e-cigarettes contain. Advertising and false information may have them believing vaping is much safer than it actually is.
How To Explain the Effects and Dangers of Nicotine
While some research suggests that e-cigarettes are less dangerous than regular cigarettes, it’s important for teens to realize that nicotine — in any form — is incredibly addictive. If the e-cigarette that they’re smoking contains nicotine, they’re affecting their brain’s reward system, affecting the development of brain circuits that control attention and learning, and may be opening the door to mood disorders and issues with impulse control.
It can sometimes be hard to convince teens to think about long term consequences, but the more they understand that nicotine has lasting effects, the more possible it becomes that they’ll think twice when presented with a change to vape.
How to Help Teenagers Avoid Peer Pressure
A 2010 review that investigated the impact of peer pressure and teen substance abuse found that while teens who had friends who smoked were more likely to smoke themselves, parenting remained an “important influence.” It’s not always easy to control who your son or daughter hangs out with, but remaining a strong, understanding force in their lives may help them make better decisions when you’re not around. And remember, if you smoke, you increase the likelihood that your kids will do the same.
However you decide to bring up the topic of vaping and e-cigarettes, it’s vital to start the conversation before advertisers, or your child’s friends, beat you to it. Whether they say it out loud or not, chances are, your kids will be thankful you did.