Teens are vaping. A lot. And while a certain level of experimentation is normal, it’s important to know the risks.
Vaping is the inhaling of a vapour created by an electronic cigarette, better known as an e-cigarette. E-cigarettes are battery-powered smoking devices. They contain cartridges filled with a liquid that is typically a mix of nicotine, flavourings and chemicals. This liquid is heated into a vapour and is then inhaled by the user, hence the term “vaping.”
Talking to our kids about things like vaping can be challenging. If they feel threatened, they will become defensive and be unreceptive to teh facts… “Don’t confuse me with teh facts – my mind is already made up!
To break through, we need to open a dialogue and explain to them why vaping isn’t for them. The reality is that the long term health risks of vaping as a teen are higher than they are for adults., This is because the chemicals and additives in teh vaping compounds can affect their growth and development.
“Don’t vape” won’t cut it!
Unfortunately, a simple parental “Don’t do it, or else” is very unlikely to work. Your teen is undoubtedly beginning to seek independence in various aspects of their development. We need to respect their intelligence. Our dialogue needs to be open and frank but non-threatening. We need to guide them to the facts so that they conclude themselves, that vaping isn’t ‘cool’.
Do you remember the Marlboro Man? Or the super-suave image that Benson & Hedges used in their branding? Well, the E-cigarette manufacturers do too! And they have seized on all of that market research expenditure to make sure that they tap right into teen insecurities.
These days it seems like vaping is everywhere. It’s promoted as the ‘safe alternative’ to tobacco. But how much do you really know about e-cigarettes, vapes and juices, and are they as safe as you think?
Test your knowledge TAKE THE QUIZ!
Do you know what you’re breathing?
The e-liquids or ‘juices’ used in electronic vaping devices generally consist of three key components: solvents, flavours and sweeteners. Some of the juices also containing nicotine. When you inhale the aerosol vapour produced by these devices you are also inhaling the fine particles of these ingredients.
Safe for what?
If you follow the marketing ‘facts’, you’ll find that most of the ingredients present in vape devices are generally recognised as ‘safe’ for consumption by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But the reality is that this ‘safety’ is only relevant when eating these products – not when they are vaped.
Little is known about the effects these ingredients have on the human body when they are vaporized and inhaled, with research in this area still developing.
However, what we do know is that many of the ingredients commonly found in vaping devices break down to form dangerous compounds when heated. Some ingredients have been found to have carcinogenic (cancer-causing) properties!
There are even instances where vapes have been found to include traces of toxic heavy metals leached from the heating elements themselves!
Vaping puts nicotine into the body and is highly addictive. It is still unknown what the long-term effects are of vaping, but short-term we do know that it can slow down brain development in kids and teens. This can then affect their memory, concentration, learning, self-control, attention and mood. E-cigarettes also irritate and damage the lungs and can easily be a pathway to the use of other forms of tobacco, such as cigarettes.
You were probably a victim of peer group pressure as a teen. I certainly was. Teens want to be ‘cool’ and to belong to their tribe. Conversations about risks can be challenging but they are a parental necessity. Hopefully, the above information will help you to address vaping with your teen.