It seems that everywhere you turn you find conflicting opinions on the safety of e-cigarettes. Because e-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco, vaping—inhaling nicotine through a pen-like device—is automatically thought of as a “cleaner” alternative to smoking, but this is not the case.
While traditional cigarettes are widely known to be addictive, dangerous and to cause cancer, e-cigarettes are the new “cool” way of feeding a nicotine habit—something Joe Camel would certainly approve of. E-cigarettes contain liquids flavored like Skittles and bubble gum. In 2013, e-cigarette TV ads reached a whopping 29.3 million teens and young adults.
According to Science News for Students, e-cigarette use by middle-school and high-school students has tripled from 2013-2014, to at least 2.5 million in total. “Every day that industry is growing very, very rapidly,” says Los Angeles County health commissioner Dr. Jonathan Fielding to NBC News. “And you can be sure that big tobacco is going to wind up in the driver’s seat with respect to marketing. Don’t let them undo decades of efforts to de-glamorize smoking.”
While researchers make a mad attempt to gather data and policy makers scramble to form appropriate governing protocols, teens are rapidly forming habits that could potentially progress into a struggle with substance abuse. Here’s how you can talk to your teen about the dangers of vaping.
What’s the Big Deal?
Depending on how much exposure your teen has had to e-cigarettes, they may or may not truly understand the associated dangers. The old adage “my parents just don’t understand” could easily come into play here. Combat this attitude by presenting multiple facts about how nicotine negatively affects the teenage brain. Being well-informed is the best way to persuade your teen to listen.
Just because e-cigarettes are trendy and widely available online, doesn’t mean they don’t contain an addictive substance. Talk to your teen about how addiction, to any drug or substance, can potentially affect their lives. Traditional cigarettes were once thought to be healthy and non-addictive, before research came out proving otherwise (tobacco cigarettes present the leading cause of preventable death in the US). You should be honest with your teen and acknowledge there are a lot of unknowns where e-cigarettes are concerned, but Nicotine is an addictive substance that has been connected to a number of health problems and an increased risk of developing an alcohol or drug problem.
The earlier you establish a stance on e-cigarette use, the greater chance you have of preventing your teen from developing a habit. Be clear with your feelings about vaping, and tell your teen you don’t approve of the practice. November is the best time to “Stomp out” smoking! If your teen is already vaping, they may be at a greater risk of developing other harmful habits and dependencies. If you notice red flags that concern you, it may be wise to seek professional help. Pacific Quest is experienced in helping adolescents and young adults struggling with substance abuse issues. Learn more about our programs by downloading a free brochure below.