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How To Talk About Vaping With Your Teenagers

How To Talk About Vaping With Your Teenagers


How To Talk About Vaping With Your Teenagers


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Demonization of vaping in the media has lead to many misleading perceptions of the practice, presenting a challenge for parents who are talking to their kids about vaping. There’s so much conflicting information out there that it’s difficult to know fact from fiction, but with an informed ear and some research you can have a healthy dialogue with your child that will hopefully help them choose to avoid the dangers of nicotine while understanding the reasons you may choose to vape as an adult.

The difficulty with parsing reliable information from a never-ending stream of dubious-at-best claims is part of the problem. On one hand, vaping is, by and large, not supported by government agencies like the CDC or the FDA as a better option than smoking. At the same time, there are numerous studies showing the potentially harm-reducing qualities that we support as a way to quit cigarettes and move toward a smoke-free environment.

This dueling attitude towards vaping: one that’s not fully supported by government institutions, but has an ever-expanding grassroots following by advocates, makes a tricky subject for parents that are teaching their kids to be healthy. As a vaper and as a parent, it’s important to be informed, to get your information from a reliable source, and most of all, to listen to your kids when they come to you with questions. Here are some strategies that parents who vape can utilize when they have to have those conversations.

Don’t Scare Your Kids

Scare tactics are never a good strategy to teach your kids anything. Instead of informing and engaging in dialogue, attempting to instill fear in your child can either reinforce misleading information about vaping or, if they've already tried it and have reason to disbelieve your claims, lose faith more generally in your word as a parent.

For example, many people mistakenly believe that there is a link between the stimulant nicotine (found in tobacco) and cancer (caused by tobacco products). This is a categorically false claim about nicotine. Alone, the stimulant nicotine alone does not cause cancer, the effects of which have been the subject of this blog before.    

That doesn’t mean that vaping is healthy, either. In a recent study by the Queen Mary University of London researchers found that long term use of e-cigarettes may make vapers more susceptible to illnesses like pneumonia and septicemia, for example.

Explaining vaping in terms of harm reduction has been a good strategy that I’ve used to explain why I vape, while not recommending it to anyone unless they’re looking to quit combustible cigarettes.

Ask Questions and Listen To Your Kids

An important part of this conversation that’s often left out is listening to your kids’ opinions of vaping before launching into a one-sided lecture. Ask them what they know about vaping. Ask them where they got their information from. Find out if they’ve seen other kids vaping, and how they feel about that. Ask them how they feel about seeing you vape.

This is an important dialogue to have with your son or daughter, not only to talk with them about how they feel about your habit, but to gauge where they stand on vaping in general.

An important part of the dialogue is making clear where you stand, why you vape, and why trying vapor products, especially ones containing nicotine, can have long-term negative health effects.

Stop Your Kids From Vaping

The ultimate goal, of course, is to discourage your kids from vaping. Vaping is something best portrayed as an activity embraced by former smokers who don't want to consume tobacco products, rather than a fun hobby or a pastime.

Remember, you probably don't have nearly as much control over your teenagers as you might hope - like it or not, they'll probably have an opportunity to try out vapor products or any number of other potentially harmful things when they're not under your direct supervision. You'll be a much more effective parent convincing them to make good decisions on their own than threatening to punish them for making choices you've made verboten by decree.