What Parents Need to Know About Vaping
E-cigarettes and other vape products are actively marketed as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Vape products are available in fun flavors, such as bubble gum and mango, and come in colorful packaging. This, along with their sleek, easy-to-conceal design, has led to a dangerous vaping epidemic among young people.
Popular vape products look similar to USB drives used by high school students for school work.
According to the CDC, approximately 20.8% of high schoolers reported using vaping devices in 2018.
The truth is: Vaping is dangerous — especially for those under the age of 25 since their brains are still developing. Additionally, quitting vaping may be difficult due to the high amounts of addictive nicotine in the devices.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), only 13% of teens know that vape contains nicotine. Manufacturers don’t have to report what is in an e-cigarette, so many believe it is just flavoring.
Dangers of vaping include:
- Brain development issues
- Broken bones
- Heart problems
- Nicotine addiction
- Popcorn lung
- Respiratory illnesses
Parents should have honest and gentle conversations with their children about the dangers of vaping and provide resources to help them quit. Your child doesn’t have to be a victim of a vaping injury or illness.
Is My Child Addicted to Vaping?
Today’s vaping devices are often small and easy to conceal from parents and teachers. However, there are a few warning signs parents can look for if they believe their child is addicted to vaping.
Signs of vaping addiction may include:
- Equipment: Vaping replicates smoking by heating a liquid inside a device, producing a vapor that is inhaled. While the method is uniform across devices, there are literally hundreds of brands and different devices on the market.
- Unfamiliar packages or online purchases: Buying online is a common way that teens will get vaping devices.
- Odors: Vaping produces a much gentler smell than cigarette smoke, however, some vape flavors have familiar smells, such as chocolate cake or bubble gum.
- Increased thirst/nose bleeds: Vaping e-liquid chemicals can cause dry mouth or harm nasal passages, leading to thirst and nose bleeds.
- Decreased caffeine use: One of the side effects of vaping is caffeine sensitivity. A loss of interest in energy drinks may be a result of vaping.
- Vaping slang: A whole subculture has risen around vaping, including new slang and jargon. Text messages might include words like “atty,” referring to the device’s atomizer, or “sauce,” referring to the device’s e-liquid or e-juice.
- Changes in appearance and behavior: Smoking marijuana through a vape device causes the same effects as traditional consumption: increased appetite, mood changes, and bloodshot eyes.
What Are the Health Risks of Vaping?
While vaping is commonly believed to be safer than smoking traditional cigarettes, it still carries many health risks.
Health risks of vaping include:
- Nicotine addiction: The nicotine contained in e-cigarettes is still addictive. This is particularly the case for young, developing brains.
- Toxic chemical exposure: The chemicals involved in vaping are dangerous, both externally (through skin contact) and if accidentally or intentionally ingested. Respiratory illnesses like asthma are irritated and worsened by vaping.
- Battery explosions: Devices have been known to cause serious injuries, such as burns, broken bones, and disfigurement, by exploding.
You can help protect your child from these health risks by understanding the warning signs of vaping’s dangers, such as nicotine addiction.
Warning Signs of Nicotine Addiction
Most e-cigarette companies add nicotine to their e-liquids because the products are allegedly intended to help adults quit smoking. However, young non-smokers may become addicted to nicotine if they use a vape that contains the drug.
Symptoms of nicotine addiction include:
- Strong cravings to vape
- Feelings of restlessness, anger, or anxiety if the user is unable to vape
- Destructive behaviors like lying or stealing for a chance to vape
- Inability to stop vaping
Parents should also be on the lookout for nicotine withdrawal if they suspect their child is vaping. Signs of nicotine withdrawal include anxiety, irritability, cough, and dizziness.
How to Protect My Child From the Dangers of Vaping
The easiest way to protect your child from a dangerous vaping addiction is to have an honest conversation before vaping starts. If your child has already started vaping, education and encouragement may help curb the habit.
Here’s how to get started:
- Know the facts: Discerning the facts from fiction helps establish your authority and knowledge. It is also important that you accurately present the risks associated with vaping.
- Talk to your child: Find conversation openers when you drive past a vape shop or see someone vaping. Start with non-confrontational, open-ended questions like, “what do you think about vaping?”
- Understand why: Most kids start vaping for many of the same reasons as any addictive behavior: boredom, peer pressure, or anxiety. Sometimes there are more deep-seated issues, though, and vaping fills a self-medicating need. Get to the root of the problem with questions like, “how does vaping make you feel?”
- Talk about expectations: Make it clear why you don’t think your child should vape, including the associated health risks.
- Roleplay: Citing a list of health risks may not help your child in a peer pressure situation. Roleplay situations with your child to help them practice saying “no” when someone offers them a vape and work through a difficult confrontation.
- Set the example: If you’re currently vaping or smoking, set the example and quit today. Be honest with your struggles to help your child see the consequences of your actions.
Other Resources for Parents
You’re not alone in your concerns for your child’s health. There are many resources available to help you get the conversation started and educate both yourself and your child about the dangers of vaping.
Helpful resources include:
Help Your Child Prevent Vaping Injuries
If your child has been injured or become sick due to vaping, there may be legal avenues for you to pursue.
Many parents and agencies are already taking action, claiming that vaping companies used deceptive marketing to target middle and high schoolers. We want to help you help your child stay safe.
To learn more about legal options after a vaping illness or injury, start a free case review.