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Recent studies have shown that over 11 percent of teens routinely use e-cigarettes. While vaping and e-cigarettes may seem harmless, there is increasing evidence that points to the contrary, particularly for e-cigarettes and vapes that contain nicotine. Especially considering increased marketing directed toward teen vapers, it is important to know how to talk to your teen about these issues.
Why Vaping Appeals to Teens
Vaping was designed to be a safer alternative for adults who already smoked cigarettes. However, new peer pressure and social media trends that highlight vape culture, like smoke-cloud tricks, have made vaping and e-cigarettes more appealing to teenagers. The range of available vaping flavors also drives down the target audience age. In fact, some online vendors advertise more than 400 different flavor offerings under fun names designed to appeal to teenagers.
The design of the vapes themselves also appears to be targeted toward younger users. Whereas original e-cigarettes more closely matched cigarettes in size and appearance, newer vapes have a modern aesthetic. Some vapes, like the JUUL, look like USB drives and are small enough to be easily hidden in a pocket. Other vapes are large and can be customized in almost every aspect, typically to allow the user to create large puffs of vapor with each use.
Why It’s Dangerous
A major misconception around vaping is that it is harmless. However, it is important to remember that vapes and e-cigarettes were originally designed to replace cigarettes for adult smokers. Thus, any marketing that claims that vapes are safe is comparing the safety of vapes to cigarettes. Most vapes contain at least a small amount of nicotine as they are designed to be a cigarette replacement. Therefore, anyone who uses vapes may develop a nicotine addiction, especially considering that nicotine is highly addictive.
For teens, in particular, the addictive nature of nicotine may have a stronger effect. Nicotine addictions in teens may also lead to stronger addictions to other substances later in life. It is also important to note that vaping is a relatively new technology, and the scientific community simply does not yet know the long-term effects of vaping in adults or teens. There is a growing concern that vaping may affect underlying conditions like asthma because of the amount of vapor inhaled.
How to Talk to Your Teen
First, it is important to know the facts surrounding vaping before you approach your teen. The best way to communicate about vaping with your teen is to have an open conversation instead of a one-sided lecture. Give your teen the space to voice their concerns and ask any questions they may have about vaping. Understanding your teen’s perspective on the issue will also help you ensure they stay nicotine-free.
It’s always a good thing to be able to talk freely with your teenager about important issues. Encouraging an open dialogue will help your teen say no to vaping and e-cigarettes and help them learn the facts they need to stay drug-free.
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