What Parents Should Know About Teens and Electronic Cigarettes
In 2018, more than 37% of high school seniors reported vaping, which is the practice of smoking e-cigarettes. That’s an increase of about 10% over the previous year’s findings. It’s not just older students using tobacco this way. About one in ten eighth graders report vaping as well. With these numbers now at record highs, parents need to talk to their teens about e-cigarettes and the real dangers these devices pose.
While some researchers generally agree that e-cigarettes may not be as bad as traditional cigarettes, vaping can still harm users. Many studies find that e-cigarettes often act as gateways for traditional cigarettes. Teens who vape are more likely to develop an addiction to traditional cigarettes in their adult years than their non-vaping peers. Smokers increase their risks for several deadly conditions, including lung cancer, COPD, heart disease, and stroke.
Even teens who do not grow up to be smokers risk their health when they use e-cigarettes. These machines use aerosol to deliver nicotine. These aerosols contain compounds such as:
- Benzene (which is in vehicle exhaust)
- Diacetyl (which researchers link to lung disease)
Finally, the nicotine itself can cause damage, especially to the developing brain. Until the age of about 25, human brains continue to physically change. During adolescence, teenagers continue to develop the parts of the mind that control impulses and decision making. Nicotine, which is an addictive substance, can stunt this growth and create lifelong damage.
According to Harvard Health, nicotine usage increases the risk of several health problems, including:
- Addiction to other drugs
- Increased blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Type 2 diabetes
With so many potential harms, it’s important for parents to stop teens from using e-cigarettes. This process starts with an open conversation about the products.
How to Talk to Teens About e-Cigarettes
As with so many conversations that parents have with their teens, it’s important for you to keep the lines of communication open with your teen when it comes to e-cigarettes. Although the dangers may scare you, it’s important to talk about it calmly and confidently. Try some of these techniques when you bring it up:
Research Before You Talk
Before you start a dialogue with your teen about the dangers of e-cigarettes, be sure you know how these products work and about the many types of vapes. This will help you use the same language with your child and speak with confidence.
Be Ready to Listen
Instead of lecturing your teen, make this an opportunity to have a conversation. By asking questions and listening, you may discover what draws teens to e-cigarettes. Best of all, you give your teen a safe space to express their concerns.
Do Not Get Angry
In this conversation, you may discover that your teen has tried or considered vaping in the past. If you react to this news with anger, they will be less likely to come to you for advice in the future.
Understand Your Limits
While parents often wish they could keep their teens from every harmful substance, teens spend plenty of time away from the control of their parents. Instead of making demands, try telling your teen how you hope they will react to e-cigarettes, but acknowledge their power to make decisions for themselves.
What to Do If Your Teen Uses e-Cigarettes
If your teenager already uses e-cigarettes on a regular basis, a discussion should just be the first step. Addiction of any kind can be difficult to stop on your own, especially for a teenager. Professional counselors can help with smoking cessation programs. Contact GBHP today to find out how we can help.