Vaping: What You Need To Know To Talk To Teens
Raising children presents you with an interesting blend of timeless and brand-new problems. One of the latest to come up is the e-cigarette. Vaping - using e-cigarettes or other similar devices - is proving to be frighteningly popular among teens who are too young to smoke. Just like cigarettes, they deliver nicotine as well as a host of other potentially harmful chemicals with every indrawn breath.
Vaping often appears to teen participants as a harmless and fun practice. Parents know better, though; they see the specter of past threats moving in under the cover of brand new technology. The rapid social acceptance, fun candy flavorings, and canny marketing used to push vaping products are all too familiar to parents who have struggled to steer kids away from tobacco in the past.
Learn more by listening to two doctors who are also parents. They have useful advice to help you talk to your kids constructively about vaping.
A Troublesome History
If you'd like to place the vaping controversy in its proper historical context, just look at the public collection of Tobacco Industry Documents maintained by Truth. This collection houses internal studies, reports, and memos created by tobacco companies. They show a very clear picture of a predatory industry specifically targeting users who are too young to make healthy long-term choices. Joe Camel and cigarettes with candy flavors were just the tip of the iceberg.
As noted above, the unfolding story of vaping sounds eerily similar to what's come before. Common flavors for the e liquid used in vaping include a range of candy, fruit, and dessert selections. Liquids that taste like doughnuts, waffles, coconuts, blueberries, peaches, cotton candy, and more - and that contain highly addictive nicotine - are freely available for online purchase by anyone who will claim to be over the age of 18.
At Pennsylvania's Lancaster Pediatric Associates, pediatrician Dr. Pia Fenimore found out about vaping from a teenaged patient she'd already helped get away from traditional smoking. Fenimore recalls that the patient attempted to "sell" her on the safety and healthiness of the process. Demonstrating the way e-cigarettes worked, Fenimore's patient produced a cloud of lollipop-scented vapor that instantly filled the doctor with dread.
Meanwhile, Janet Raloff wrote an in-depth article on the risks of teen e-cigarette use that appeared in the June issue of ScienceNews. Nicotine may have severe effects on the still-developing brains of teenagers. Of course, it must be said that nicotine-free products are both manufactured and widely sold alongside their addictive counterparts. This is far from a guarantee of safety, though. Vaping products can contain a host of other unknown and potentially harmful chemicals. Vaping is also a technology that's easily applied to illicit drug use; 18 percent of surveyed high schoolers who vape have reported vaping marijuana on at least one occasion.
Opening A Dialog
According to Dr. Laura Offutt, a leading crusader against teen smoking, very real progress has been made in curbing teen smoking in the past few decades. The message that smoking is dangerous has penetrated deeply into the public consciousness, including the teenaged zeitgeist. The problem is that vaping is being positioned by producers and marketers as something completely different and far more acceptable.
E-cigarette use is a lot easier to conceal than traditional tobacco use, according to Offut. It leaves behind much less of a telltale odor. Subtle signs, like bloodshot eyes or withdrawal pangs, are still detectable. Many teens rely on the novelty of vaping technology to allow their habit to pass under the parental radar. Offut advises all parents to study the pictures of sample vaping devices she's posted to her website.
Offut says that the most productive way to start the conversation about vaping is to keep things casual. Rather than starting off with any judgmental language, it's a good idea to explain to your kids what you've learned and then ask them what they've heard on the topic. Asking about attitudes among their friends and fellow students is also a good icebreaker.
Fenimore agrees that staying away from judgment is important. She advises parents to steer clear of absolute yes/no questions, as these kinds of queries invite glib, unhelpful (and possibly untruthful) answers.
The good news is that modern teens know a lot about staying healthy. Exploring the negative health consequences of nicotine use (e.g fatigue, mood swings, high blood pressure, addiction) is often enough to convince kids to make smart decisions regarding vaping.
Fenimore says it's important to make it clear that vaping isn't a spur-of-the-moment pastime. It's a long-term decision that can affect your health for many years to come.
Finally, and most importantly, remember to set a positive example. Just as with traditional tobacco, vaping product usage is much more likely among teen children of parents who vape. Parents who indulge can send the message - even an unintentional one - that vaping is OK.
* Sponsored post written by Andy Cooper at www.simplyeliquid.co.uk