“E-cigarette use poses a significant – and avoidable – health risk to young people in the United States.” - Surgeon General of the United States
A: E-cigarettes (also referred to as “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape
pens,” “vapes,” “tank systems,” and electronic nicotine delivery systems) are battery-operated devices used to heat and aerosolize a liquid in order to deliver nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals that users inhale.
Here are some reasons that youth may use e-cigarettes:
A: There are many reasons why we feel it is unsafe to use e-cigarettes:
Nicotine impacts the teenage brain:
Other chemicals and risks:
Links to other products:
A: Parents and caregivers may not realize their ability to influence their child’s decision to use or not use e-cigarettes. Fortunately, peers and the internet are only a supplement, not a replacement, for parents, teachers, and doctors as sources of credible health information for teenagers.
First we want parents to model the behavior we want to see in our children. We want homes to be tobacco free. And if you are a caregiver that uses tobacco, it is never too late to quit. And even if you have used tobacco yourself, your children will listen if you discuss your struggles with nicotine addiction.
Next, we want parents to be open, patient, and non-judgmental.
Be prepared with facts, such as those listed above, to be able to answer your child’s questions.
Now, start a conversation (not a lecture), and be ready to listen. We want to encourage an open dialogue. That conversation could even start with sharing this blog with your child and then asking them what they think after reading it. Or if you see an advertisement, e-cigarette shop, or someone using an e-cigarette, use that exposure as an opportunity to simply ask, “Do you know any kids that vape or use e-cigarettes?” or “What are your thoughts about e-cigarettes?“ Make sure you express your appreciation of their honesty and willingness to share. We want to reinforce communication and connection. Also reinforce the concept that you are having this conversation because your child’s health and safety are very important to you.
Lastly, be clear that you don't approve of them smoking or using e-cigarettes now or in the future. Remind them that “vaping” is a choice, a choice that can lead to harmful consequences. And if your teen is using e-cigarettes and needs support in quitting, consider using a resource such as SmokeFreeTeen. This resource provides information that guides young people through the steps to quit. It also offers a free texting program to provide continued encouragement along the way.
Parents, health care providers, teachers, and others all have roles in caring for, mentoring, and teaching our youth about their health and safety. Let’s fulfill that responsibility by staying informed, setting good examples, and continuing to have these important conversations.
Dr. Tiffany Spanier is a pediatrician in the Allegro Pediatrics Bellevue location.