Vaping involves using electronic cigarettes or vape pens, or JUUL devices that heat substances to liquefy them so that teens (or adults) can inhale the resultant vapour. The substances range from nicotine to (currently) THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the cannabinoid responsible for the intense euphoria when consuming marijuana.
With the introduction of vapes, the idea behind its use was for adult smokers to gradually quit their unhealthy tobacco intake to favor something less harmful. Unfortunately, vaping is almost if not as addictive.
The habit is growing to epidemic proportions. Approximately every 1 out of 5 high school teens engage in tobacco use via e-cigarettes as a standard practice within the US since 2020, exceeding smoking standard cigarettes. Many graduate from vape into smoking as they enter adulthood. Open for FAQs on vaping and teens.
Most teens disassociate the commonality between vaping THC compounds or tobacco products and smoking these same traditional products. Many live under the false pretense that by using a vaporizer, they are in some way safe from the effects of these products.
All need an education and preventative measures taken from parents and school authorities to genuinely keep them safe from the risks the habit carries.
Who will bring preventive measures and educate our teen population on vaping?
Parents and schools need to stand together as a cohesive team to educate teens on the risks associated with vaping. Our youth are woefully misinformed and of the mindset that the habit is a healthy alternative to smoking and illicit drug use when, in fact, it ranks right up there.
Fortunately, schools are taking positive steps with monitors, examples of which you can see at https://www.zeptive.com/, to help sense when students are using the equipment in the bathrooms or other building areas. Informing parents of the use allows the child to receive a constructive education in the home and with professional assistance on the perils of the habit and attempt to begin the healing process.
Before it gets to this point, though, we need to take preventative measures. Parents take the appropriate steps related to smoking cigarettes, doing illicit drugs, and drinking alcohol. Still, generally, there’s no conversation involving vape and its risks allowing kids to underestimate the potential dangers. The conversation needs to happen before the habit starts.
- Nicotine. All forms of nicotine products are unsafe regardless of how you consume them. While less dangerous than inhaling smoke, E-cigarettes or any vape device produces health risks.
- Teens. Our brains continue to develop until the age of 25, meaning a teen is particularly vulnerable to vape’s harsh risks like addiction to nicotine or THC (the ‘high’ inducing component in marijuana), which affects learning, focus, and cognition or memory.
- Risks. Severe conditions from chemicals aside from nicotine, such as ‘diacetyl’, include asthma and lung disease.
- Smoking. A teen who vapes will most likely turn into an adult who smokes cigarettes at some point.
Teens need a harsh reality check regarding the traditional abuses that we faced as teens and those habits developing today. It’s imperative as a parent that you stay current on what kids get into and how it’s harming them so that you can educate and inform intelligently. Kids get their information from other kids or on the street. They’re grossly misinformed until a person of authority sets their mind straight but in a constructive, healthy manner.
How to prevent vape from coming into a teen’s world
First and foremost, in order to prevent substance abuse of any kind from your child, you need to be a reliable resource. If a child doesn’t feel they can reach out to a parent in a healthy way, they will go to other sources to find answers, and usually, these are inaccurate and not healthful.
When approached with any question, the initial reaction needs to be one of a calm, receptive, and eager-to-help demeanor – showing on your face and in your voice, no matter how shaken you may be inside. Anything else and a kid will retreat and never come back to you.
You need to follow steps as a parent when you enter the role to ensure your child doesn’t go down the substance path, and that can start at a very young age in today’s world. Some of these include:
You are the role model, and they will be influenced by only you from birth to five until they go off to school. More teens whose parents smoke will become smokers as well.
If you vape or smoke around your child, quit and explain to them why it was necessary to stop and what risks you faced if you didn’t stop. Explain the regrets you have for having started in the first place. If there are friends or family members who engage in these activities, don’t allow them to do so around your child.
You might not believe that your teen hears you, but you are a powerful influence. A parent’s words hold a lot of weight with their child even if they seem as though they’re not listening.
Learn the equipment
Part of a parent educating on vaping is recognising the equipment when it comes in the house. Some of these vaping devices look like regular, everyday items you wouldn’t have a reason to question, like a USB flash drive. One of these pods has enough nicotine to equate to 20 standard cigarettes. You’ll find other devices reminiscent of a highlighter marker or an ink pen.
Everyone needs to work as a team, from the school to the parents to the extended family and friends. If everyone is speaking the same conversation, the information will get through.
Teach kids it’s OK to say ‘no’ when presented with vape at parties or in a circle of friends; no one has to follow a crowd. It’s OK to be an individual. In fact, more people wish they had that courage.
Marketers present vape as a harmless practice meant to substitute for the harmful effects of smoking and other more dangerous substance abuses, including THC addiction. Unfortunately, teens are watching.
The material they see convinces them that vaping nicotine and THC won’t produce similar risks seen with smoking these harmful substances. And someone needs to tell them the facts.
Smoke turns the material into charred remains. Burned ash is worse for the lungs than material that is merely heated and inhaled into the lungs. However, nicotine and THC are what they are in any form, whether it be charred or heated.
When these dangerous substances enter your system, you’re introducing harmful health risks that equate regardless of how you present them. Once there, they provide a threat of equal quality. As an intelligent teenager who says no to smoking, illicit drugs, alcohol – the next wise move is to avoid the dangers that vaping presents.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.