Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol, often referred to as vapor, produced by a vape or e-cigarette. Vapes and e-cigarettes are the same thing, though youth tend to use the term “vapes” instead of “e-cigarettes.” Vaping has become more popular among teens than regular cigarettes, especially given that vaping devices can be used for anything from highly-concentrated nicotine flavors like mango, blueberry, or tutti frutti, to potent concentrates of THC (the chemical compound in marijuana that produces the high). The most current U.S. data vaping available (from the Monitoring the Future 2019 Survey Results) revealed that:
In order to protect your child from vaping, Parent Up encourages parents to CARE, CONNECT, COMMUNICATE and pay CAREFUL ATTENTION. While this strategy is no guarantee, if implemented consistently and with intention, the likelihood of your child engaging in any substance use is much lower.
Educate yourself and others about the harmful effects of teen vaping (and all drug use) on the developing brain and make it a priority to protect your child from engaging in any substance use. Remember that you have the greatest influence over your child’s engagement in substance use. Start early and let your child know you care about their health and safety, and that you are speaking from a place of concern, love, and support. These are tricky conversations and difficult situations to navigate with your kids, but a little work on the front end can protect your child’s health and safety for years to come.
Care Action Steps:
Connection is key to prevention. Kids that have stable, consistent, and healthy relationships with adults are more likely to make safer decisions and live healthier lives. It’s important that parents, and other caring adults, take time to listen, pay attention, spend time, and follow up with the kids in their lives. When kids feel valued, they better understand their feelings and are more willing to listen to you.
Connect Action Steps:
Teaching your child about the impact of vaping on their developing brain and body, and setting clear expectations and rules is crucial to the Parent Up strategy. Without these expectations, rules, and consequences, youth are much more likely to vape or try other drugs. Parent Up encourages you to start these conversations as early as age 8. Having open and honest conversations about this topic is important for preventing youth use.
Make it clear to your child that you don’t approve of them vaping, but be curious and open-minded about their experiences. Ask them questions about what they think about it. Ask them what they know or what they’ve heard about vaping. It’s more important – and effective– to listen and discuss rather than to lecture. Resist interrogating or threatening your child. You are building a foundation for a relationship with your child that is honest, trusting, and open, which is an important protective factor to safeguard your child from all substance use.
Communicate Action Steps:
As a general practice, know where your kids are at, who they are with, and be sure to check in when they get home. Watch for any early signs or symptoms of vape or nicotine use and be on alert for changes in behaviors, friend groups, or attitudes.
Careful Attention Action Steps:
Worried your child may be vaping? The Partnership to End Addiction can help.
Vaping: The Hit Your Brain Takes (2 minutes)
From the Addiction Policy Forum, this video debunks common myths about vaping and summarizes the science on the harms of adolescent e-cigarette use.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse explores the intriguing similarities between the processes of brain development and computer programming. The analogy helps us understand why toxic environmental factors like drugs can have such a long-lasting impact on a teenager’s life. This analogy can be used to empower your children or students with information they need to make better decisions.
The Reward Circuit: How the Brain Responds to Natural Rewards & Drugs (2 minutes)
Feeling pleasure motivates us to repeat behaviors that are critical to our existence. The limbic system is activated by healthy, life-sustaining activities such as eating and socializing—but it is also activated by substance use, which is why drugs can hijack this circuit and lead to a compulsive cycle of drug use and, in many cases, addiction.