Mighty Blog

How to talk to kids about vaping 

Parents might have a hard time talking to their kids and teens about vaping. There are many reasons why it can be so complicated. Marketing campaigns surrounding vapes have found a way to market them as “organic,” kids and teens have lingo we might not know about, and they have found a way to make hidden devices so they’re hard to spot. 

Dr. Brooke Moore, MPH, pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Respiratory and Critical Care Specialists, medical director for respiratory therapy and medical director for the cystic fibrosis program at Children’s Minnesota, talks about understanding vaping as parents, caregivers and adults.

teen vaping

Marketing vaping as healthy

Marketing campaigns surrounding vaping targeted at kids and teens are very good at advertising that these devices are actually better than smoking a real cigarette. They focus their messaging on how vapes – whether that’s marijuana or tobacco or CBD – are “natural” and “organic” which in turn makes people, especially kids and teens, think they are healthy. 

Some kids and teens might think because there’s no tobacco in vaping or second-hand smoke, vaping is healthier than smoking cigarettes. In fact, there’s a lot of harm that can happen from vaping. According to the CDC, “Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.” 

Besides nicotine, e-cigarettes can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including: 

  • Ultrafine particles and flavorants, such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease. 
  • Propylene glycol 
  • Formaldehyde 
  • Volatile organic compounds 
  • Heavy metals (such as nickel, tin and lead) 

Hidden devices 

There are many new ways companies are making vapes hidden. One of the most common ways is looking like a USB drive, like the Juul brand. Other ways can be in a hoodie sweatshirt string, disguised as a pen, highlighter, lipstick tube, phone cases, and so much more. 

When it’s almost impossible to spot, it can be hard to know if your child vapes. But knowing the different ways they’re disguised can help you spot them. Here’s a great video from TODAY that shows just a few of the many ways vapes can be disguised. 

Using the lingo 

To make sure you get the honest answer from a child about their vaping habits, you might want to know the lingo. If you ask a child or teen if they vape, they might say no because they don’t call it vaping. They might call it carts, dabs or shatter. Get more examples of the lingo used from Truth Initiative. 

Helping anxiety and stress 

Some kids and teens think vaping can help their anxiety and stress; however, it can actually make it worse. Because of its addictiveness, it can make a person who uses it regularly anxious when they’re in a situation where they might not be able to use it. 

Plus, the CDC says, “Using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control.” 

How to help a child or teen stop smoking 

If you want to help your child or teen to stop smoking, there are many resources out there for you and them. Get tips from the following websites: 

Alexandra Rothstein