Vaping. It’s been around for some time. And, while the original “sell” was to adults looking to kick the cigarette habit, that’s not where the marketing and major push has gone. It’s gone after our kids. And as parents, it’s time to get informed and fight back.
What Is Vaping?
Vaping is the process of using a device that simulates smoking, using an aerosolized vapor instead of smoke. Within the device, there is a heating element that vaporizes a liquid that the user then inhales. According to the CDC, the liquid that people are inhaling could contain several different substances, including:
- Ultrafine particles
- Flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease.
- Volatile organic compounds
- Cancer-causing chemicals
- Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead
Who Is Vaping?
Over time, the vaping “community” has gotten younger. Currently, the average age is 15-19, with even middle school-aged kids vaping. But, let’s drive that point home with a few stats from the FDA’s Youth Tobacco Use Study, from December 2020:
- 58 million youth use e-cigarettes
- 20% of high schoolers use e-cigarettes.
- 5% of middle schoolers use e-cigarettes
And it gets worse:
- Of the high schoolers that use e-cigarettes, 40% use them for 20 or more days during the month. 25% use them every day.
- Of the middle schoolers that use e-cigarettes, 20% use them for 20 or more days during the month. 10% use them every day.
The Health Implications.
Those numbers are a huge concern. There are serious health implications that accompany vaping and e-cigarette products:
- Acute lung injuries
- Long-term addiction
- Harm to adolescent brain development includes harm to the brain parts that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.
- Changes to how adolescent synapsis are formed.
- Potential chronic lung disease and asthma
- Increased blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Gum inflammation
Per the CDC, as of February 2020, there have been 2,807 hospitalized cases of serious lung injury associated with vaping products. These hospitalizations have resulted in 68 deaths!
Serious lung injury and death…from something that kids are using!
The Addiction Part.
So, why are kids even trying vaping? According to the NIH Monitoring the Future survey, 60% vape to see what it’s like. 41% vape because they like how it tastes. 37% vape as a social activity and 8% have an addiction to vaping.
Wait, 41% like how it tastes? Yep! And with flavors like candy, mint, and fruit, that large percentage makes sense. And, although 8% sounds small when it comes to addiction, keep in mind that stat is about kids – 8% of kids that vape are addicted. No kids should be addicted to vaping.
Here’s the kicker. If your kids are vaping, it’s not terribly easy to figure out that they are. There’s no scent on their clothes or their breath as there would be with regular cigarettes, and the devices are small – we are talking pocket-sized. They may even look like a flash drive. So, how do you find out if your kids are vaping? Conversation.
Talk to Your Kids About Vaping
It is clear that vaping is out there – even with younger middle school-aged kids. And, if your kids do not hear about vaping and its dangers from you, they will learn about it from their friends. Friends that may not understand the dangers involved with vaping. So, talk to your kids, early and often, and consider using a few of these tips:
- Be supportive during the conversation and keep the lines of communication open. Try to avoid quick reactions or judgement if your child indicates that they vape or if they have tried it.
- Help your kids understand the dangers of vaping. Share the information in this article or visit https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/ together to go through the information.
- Let them know that the vaping industry has big money behind them and a powerful marketing team. Their job is to get people hooked on vaping. Once you are hooked, you are a constant stream of income for them (that is all you are to them, dollar signs).
- Be involved and present in their life. Yes, it can be hard with teens, but stay involved with them. You’ll understand their personality better and be aware of any mood or other behavioral changes if they happen.
- Be honest with your kids. Let them know you are concerned and why. If you smoked when you were younger, consider sharing your story with them. It can make you more relatable and let your kids know that you faced similar challenges when you were their age.
- Offer support and resources. If they are addicted and need help quitting, talk to your child’s doctor and ask for a local resource that can help.
Trying to Kick the Habit
In addition, if you smoke or vape, now is the stop to kick the habit and set a good example for your child. They are watching you, and if you’re able to stop smoking, the message will be extremely impactful on them.
The information about vaping is clear – it is dangerous and addictive. The opportunity for targeting our kids is there, and it’s happening. As a parent, now is the time to act and protect your kids from the many long-term, negative consequences of vaping. If you have not had a vaping conversation with your kids, there is no better time than the present.
Help with the Conversation:
To help you get the conversation started, we are providing you with a few links: