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The Cardiologist's Wife - E-Cigarettes-Vaping Use Among Teens
Feb 21, 2019

If you’ve picked up a paper or turned on the news lately, you’ve been hearing about the rising rate of e-cigarette use among teens. By now it is clear that e-cigarettes are potentially addictive as most contain nicotine, a highly addictive drug with known health risks no matter how is is delivered. In young people, nicotine can affect brain development and function, mood and the ability to focus. There is little federal oversight over vaping devices meaning that there are no standards concerning ingredients or concentrations. The use of these devices has the potential to normalize smoking in a whole new generation leading to dire health problems in the future. As a parent, you should talk with your children, the earlier the better, to give them the tools they need to understand the risks and manage peer pressure. Here are a few tips to get that conversation rolling.

First, set a good example - if you smoke, quit. It’s hard to have any authority if you are guilty of the offense. That said, as a former smoker, you can talk about the difficulties quitting and how it made you feel.

Next, find the right moment, and ask your teen what they think or know about vaping. Be patient, listen, avoid criticizing and encourage an ongoing discussion on the topic. Asking their opinion first increases the odds of the conversation continuing as they’ll want to find out what you know too. Ask “why” before talking about the dangers or facts concerning e-cigarettes. Facts about danger don’t always faze teens. Teens may enjoy the stimulant of nicotine, the allure of pushing the limits set by adults or want to impress others with tricks done by exhaling the vapor.

Your teen may ask you questions so be prepared to answer with facts such as: nicotine is addictive and has known health consequences, your brain is still developing and more vulnerable to addiction, e-cigarettes may contain other harmful chemicals, when you exhale, you expose others to the same harmful chemicals. Let your child or teen know that their long term health is extremely important to you and that you hope it matters to them as well.

Keep in mind that if you issue an ultimatum concerning the use of e-cigarettes, it may inspire rebellion rather than obedience. You can tell your teen that if you find out they have been using them, there will be repercussions as there are with other rules you’ve set. Teens really do care what their parents think and want to stay on their good side but peer pressure is a big influence too. If they are worried about fitting in with the group or not looking cool by refusing to vape, discuss some ways they can turn e-cigarettes down and still fit in. Using humor is one way - “my mom has the nose of a blood hound and she’d kill me”; a nonchalant, “I’ve already tried them and it’s not my thing” or “it bothers my allergies” might work when said with confidence.

Last, let your child know you have confidence in their ability to make good choices. You have to accept that kids will experiment and push the boundaries of behavior. If you have laid the foundation of expectations and family values, your teen will most likely chose the best path.

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