Teens & Vaping: Information and Resources for Parents
Vaping is the use of electricity (through an e-cigarette) to heat a liquid that is converted into a mist, or vapor that is then inhaled. The liquid solution may or may not contain nicotine and has been found to contain volatile chemicals. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens and young adults. While recent studies show that the surge in teen vaping has begun to level off, vaping continues to remain significantly high among teenagers.
Alarming Statistics (adapted from the National Institutes of Drug Abuse www.drugabuse.gov)
- From 2017 to 2019, the percentage of teenagers who said they vaped nicotine in the past 12 months roughly doubled.
- Eighth graders endorsing vaping use, increased from 7.5% to 16.5%. In 2020, the rate remained at 16.6%.
- For 10th graders the rates increased from 15.8% to 30.7%, and held steady at 30.7% in 2020.
- Rates of vaping use for 12th graders raised from 18.8% to 35.3%, with 34.5% of Seniors reporting use in 2020.
- Adolescents vaping marijuana has also remained steady in 2020. Results from a recent Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey indicate that 8.1% of eighth graders, 19.1% of 10th graders and 22.1% of 12th graders, reported vaping marijuana within the past year.
- The survey also suggests that many teens perceive e-cigarettes to be a a less harmful alternative to traditional smoking. While e-cigarettes contain fewer toxins than tobacco cigarettes, there is now conclusive evidence that vaping has serious negative health risks.
Taking a Proactive Approach
There are many effective strategies that parents can use to help prevent their children from vaping.
- The old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do,” likely won’t work with your teen. Set a good example by maintaining a tobacco-free home and car. Parents that currently use tobacco products and are interested in quitting, are encouraged to visit www.smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free assistance.
- Have regular talks with your children about vaping, drug and alcohol use. Don’t be afraid to start these conversations early. Not sure where to start? This article provides age appropriate ways to initiate these important conversations.
- Make sure you have an understanding of the policies and rules for tobacco-use at your child’s school.
- Ask your teen about their opinions and encourage them to ask questions about vaping. It’s important for your child to know they can be honest with you.
- Discuss reasons not to vape or use tobacco products, but avoid scare tactics. Emphasize how tobacco use can impact things that are important to your teen (i.e., sports, driving, health, and appearance).
- Acknowledge the media messages your child receives about vaping and talk about them.
- Discuss ways to resist peer pressure. This may also include role playing what to do in an uncomfortable social situation.
- Establish clear rules and consequences. Be consistent if your child breaks these rules.
- Ask for support when needed.
For more information, review this E-Cigarettes and Youth Toolkit.
What to do if your child is already vaping
It’s not too late! Although there is no “one size fits all” approach to this situation, there are some things families can try. If you know that your child is currently vaping, consider the following suggestions.
- Be compassionate and understanding. Avoid having discussions when you’re angry or when your child is under the influence.
- Talk to your teen and try to get as much information as you can about why they vape. What do they like about it? What do they vape? (Nicotine or THC) When do they vape? How often do they vape? Do they do it alone, with peers or both?
- Considering all of this information, you may be able to better determine if this at the experimental level or something more advanced. Continue the conversation if needed. Ask your teen if it is difficult for them not to vape. Me mindful of statements that lead to feelings of anxiety or depression.
- Work with your teen to come up with a plan for stopping this behavior. Collaborate together in an effort to get your teen to “buy in” to the plan.
- Don’t be afraid to seek support from psychologists and therapists. These professionals can work directly with your teen, or help you as parents to build your toolbox of resources.