Tobacco consumption have fallen among teens, but vaping is on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.1% of high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the past month in 2022 compared to just 2% in 2014.
It’s a complicated issue, because there is some evidence that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes and may be helpful for adults who are trying to quit smoking. However, the same products pose greater risks to teens without any of the potential benefits. For example, the brain of an adolescent continues to develop until about the age of 25. Exposure to nicotine at a young age can harm their developing brain and lead them in a potential addiction to other substances.
Teenagers might vape to deal with anxiety or stress, but it can potentially be the source of their stress. Furthermore, research has found that teens who use any forms of vape, or cigarettes do report higher levels of anxiety and depression.
As a parent, it’s important to understand the consequences of vaping and be able to talk about them with your family. Teenagers with parents who are against vaping are least likely to use and abuse it. Look at these strategies that can help you stop your teen from vaping.
One recent study found that more than half of high school seniors believed that vaping delivered just flavoring, even though most products contain nicotine. Accurate information and open dialogue can safeguard your teen’s wellbeing.
These strategies can help:
- Know the risks. While e-cigarettes may have less toxins, they still contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals, metals, and carcinogens. They increase the risk for heart and respiratory conditions, and teens who vape are more likely to smoke regular cigarettes as well.
- Stay updated. Keep track of trends in teenage vaping. For example, some of the most popular current devices are pods that look like a computer flash drive and low vapor products so discreet they can even be used during class (Yes, during class! Right under their hoody sleeves so that the teacher does not see them).
- Discuss vaping. Have a two-way conversation about facts with your teen rather than lecturing them or using scare tactics. Be direct about your concerns and prepared to revisit the subject as often as needed.
- Be a role model. Set a positive example. You’ll have more credibility if you’re tobacco-free yourself.
Tips on Quitting Vaping
Quitting vaping or smoking tends to be easier for anyone who has had relatively brief exposure to nicotine. If your teen is already vaping, they can stop successfully with your support.
Try these techniques to help them stop:
- Provide encouragement. Praise and reassurance from you and their peers will reinforce your child’s efforts. See if there’s a teen support group in your area or consider starting one.
- Avoid nicotine replacement. Nicotine has been shown to have a negative impact on adolescent brain development, and most teens will not require such products. However, if you suspect that your child may be nicotine dependent, your doctor can recommend effective treatment options.
- Manage stress. Using nicotine at any age may be an attempt to cope with stress. Help your child find safer alternatives, such as physical exercise and talking about their concerns.
- Ask for help. There are many sources of additional information and guidance about quitting vaping or smoking. Ask your doctor for suggestions or contact the CDC Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) hotline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
It’s natural for teens to have a strong desire to fit in. Being able to handle peer pressure will help protect them from vaping and other harmful behavior.
Consider these ideas:
- Boost self-esteem. Confidence and a healthy self-image make your child less vulnerable to negative social influences. Help them to set goals and value their strengths.
- Encourage positive friendships. Teen friendships can have beneficial effects too. Make it a point to get to know your children’s friends and monitor their social media activity.
- Plan ahead. Spend time with your child rehearsing how to respond if someone asks them to vape. Develop multiple options they can use for different situations.
Remember that while vaping may be safer than smoking, it’s still associated with serious health risks, especially for adolescents. Talk with your children about vaping and help them make sound decisions about their future.