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Talking to Your Teens About Vaping

Vaping equipment

Vaping is similar to opera: Some people think it is fantastic, while others passionately despise it.

To longtime smokers, vaping seems like a godsend because it can satisfy their cravings for cigarettes or nicotine without exposing them to lethal chemicals found in cigarettes. But vaping is a potential hazard to their children’s well-being.

What Is Vaping and Why Do Teens Like It?

Vaping occurs when someone inhales the vapor from an electronic cigarette. This activity involves a person breathing in through the mouthpiece of an e-cigarette. This triggers a battery to power a heating element, which heats up the liquid inside a cartridge and vaporizes it into a form that can be inhaled.

Some people are using the term “epidemic” to describe teen vaping. In the most recent Monitoring the Future survey, 21 percent of high school seniors reported past-month use of an e-cigarette. That rate almost doubled from the 2017 survey’s figure of 11 percent. It also marked the largest year-over-year percentage-point increase among 12th-graders’ 30-day use of any substance in the history of the study.

In addition to boredom, curiosity or conventional reasons given for experimentation with illegal behaviors, teen vapers are attracted to the flavored e-liquids. These flavors range from strawberry and chocolate to cinnamon and buttered popcorn.

The Trouble With Vaping

It’s unlawful to sell vaping products to minors. Health advocates say that the problem with teen vaping is that a large percentage of e-liquids contain nicotine, which is the addictive component found in regular cigarettes. In fact, e-cigarettes were developed as a safer nicotine delivery system for heavy smokers, and these products have demonstrated impressive results in helping people to quit smoking.

But for inquisitive teens, vaping may actually start them on the road to nicotine addiction. Even if they never touch a conventional cigarette, regular nicotine use can expose them to discomfort and distress if they try to stop vaping. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include irritability, a lack of concentration, insomnia, moodiness, increased appetite or possibly gastrointestinal ailments.

Teens usually don’t know what’s in the products they vape. If they are offered an e-cigarette, they might not inquire about the nicotine content of the liquid. Also, some people use e-cigarettes to vape marijuana or THC-injected products, so teens may not be aware they’re consuming pot when they vape.

How to Have the Vaping Talk

When speaking to your teen about vaping, try asking your teen this question: If someone gave you a pill and told you to take it, would you do it without asking questions? If not, then why would you use an e-cigarette without knowing what’s in the vaping liquid?

Dad and teen talking

Then you can discuss the pitfalls of nicotine addiction. Feel free to reference real-life examples of relatives, acquaintances or others who struggled to quit smoking but failed. Remind your teen that not only is it illegal to purchase — and in some jurisdictions, possess — vaping products, but being caught with vaping paraphernalia may result in school discipline or the dismissal from extracurricular activities.

Don’t forget to mention the high price tag of feeding a nicotine addiction. Keeping their e-cigarettes full of vaping liquid can drain their bank account. You can also mention that some e-liquids contain hazardous chemicals like formaldehyde or acrolein — though usually in undetectable or unquantifiable amounts — if you think that fact might be persuasive.

You shouldn’t exaggerate the impact of vaping to your teens. If you claim that e-cigarettes are just as dangerous as cocaine, heroin or other illicit drugs, your teenager may see through that argument. But if you speak logically and calmly about the negative effects of vaping and nicotine addiction, you’re more likely to dissuade them from trying or using e-cigarettes.

When Vaping Becomes Something More

Vaping can also be used as a way to consume marijuana surreptitiously, which can lead to marijuana dependence or even addiction to another substance like cocaine or heroin. If you are concerned about your teenager’s misuse of substances and want more information about addiction treatment for teens, contact Next Generation Village today.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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